Mike Ambinder plays a game wearing the OpenBCI Ultracortex BCI Array. (Image Credit: Mike Ambinder/Valve Corporation)
In an interview with New Zealand’s 1 News, Valve Software’s Gabe Newell offered a few insights into the company’s exploration of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for gaming and beyond. Newell says that your brain interfacing with a computer is “distinguishable from science fiction.”He also believes that developers should not ignore this idea.
Now, Valve is working on a new project involving OpenBCI headsets, making it easier for developers to understand the signals coming from a player’s brain. Doing so means a BCI interface could customize a player’s experience and improve immersion. For example, a game could determine when the player is bored, and afterward, it would increase the difficulty level. Newell has a more ambitious idea: writing signals to a player’s brain.
BCIs can also be used to prevent players from experiencing motion sickness while gaming in virtual reality. Additionally, Valve is contributing to projects that develop synthetic body parts since a video game engine can be used by a company developing prosthetic limbs.
Newell says that our body restricts our gaming experience. Interfacing with a user’s brain could unlock some interesting possibilities.
Other than gaming, BCIs could help people sleep better. Regardless of the possibilities, brain-computer interfaces also have risks. He says that a BCI making players feel pain is a “complicated topic,” and the interfaces are vulnerable to viruses. As a result, the BCI needs some form of protection.
There are no plans to commercialize its research yet. Newell also said that devices run the risk of being outdated once it goes through commercialization. This is due to the rapid progression of Valve’s research.
Other companies are exploring brain-computer interfaces. Facebook is developing a project that allows a user to type with their brain. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is working on a technique to connect a computer to a human brain.
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