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The Future of Gaming: It May All Be In Your Head
Gaming as a hobby evokes images of lethargic teenagers huddled over their controllers, submerged in their couch surrounded by candy bar wrappers. This image should soon hit the reset button since a more exciting version of gaming is coming. It's called neurogaming, and it's riding on the heels of some exponential technologies that are converging on each other. Many of these were on display recently in San Francisco at the�NeuroGaming Conference and Expo; a first-of-its-kind conference whose existence alone signals an inflection point in the industry.
Conference founder, Zack Lynch, summarized neurogaming to those of us in attendance as the interface, "where the mind and body meet to play games."
Driven by explosive growth in computer processing, affordable sensors, and new haptic sensation technology, neurogame designers have entirely new toolkits to craft an immersive experience �that simulates our waking life. Lucid journeys into the dreamscapes depicted in films like Inception may soon become possible.
Recently developed platforms like Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii don't require the motor skill to use complex gamepads, so it's common to see three year olds and even seventy-three year olds showing those teenagers a thing or two about Nintendo Wii tennis. The next step for game designers is to introduce psycho-emotional inputs measuring anything from heart rate, facial analysis, voice measurement, skin conductance, eye tracking, pupil dilation, brain activity, and your ever-changing emotional profile. These games will know the user at a subconscious level and deliver an experience that could forever blur the line between virtual and reality.
The future of neurogaming depends heavily on continued development of reliable augmented and virtual reality technologies. Chatter about�Google Glass�was everywhere, and I especially enjoyed sampling the�Oculus Rift, a crowd favorite. I was stunned by the high degree of realism in navigating the game map inside one developer's world where I experienced shooting a virtual basketball in an open court. Experiencing a game as a total first person observer is a somewhat psychedelic and mind-bending experience. Wearing an Oculus, that Wii tennis match may seem a bit more interesting when you're competing at Wimbledon with a lifelike crowd on hand to cheer you on.
With the Oculus Rift, Stanford virtual reality expert Walter Greenleaf pointed out that, "Virtual Reality could finally be at a turning point. It's available at an accessible price point, with unparalleled levels of connectivity, visual and auditory immersion, and the latency to enable more natural body movement."
Neurogames also pull together technologies that deliver feedback to immerse players in ways never before possible. One such output technology included a recently developed device at the University of Utah, which uses sliding bars inside handle controllers to recreate the sensation of holding a real object. �Imagine a next generation Wii controller that simulates an actual tennis racket during that Wimbledon final.
Here's a video of the tech in action:
Neurogames are sure to entertain, but they're also amplifying gaming's reach into other sectors as well.
Imagine if gaming looked like this :
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