Virtual reality was all the rage the recent Games Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Valve announced an HTC-built SteamVR headset that could give Oculus Rift a run for its money, while Sony talked about the PS4-compatible Morpheus rig and Microsoft teased HoloLens for Xbox One and Windows 10. They all promise ways to enhance the gaming experience beyond the screen.
SteamVR is interesting, so much so that PC games site Rock Paper Shotgun felt confident enough to say that “Valve’s Vive VR Prototype Is Better Than The Oculus Rift’s”. But while all of the previously mentioned virtual reality headsets use physical controllers to move you around immersive 3D worlds, the MindLeap from MindMaze doesn’t need one.
It’s the world’s first thought-powered AR/VR system
“MindMaze has developed a breakthrough platform to build intuitive human machine interfaces combining virtual reality (VR), computer graphics, brain imaging and neuroscience,” says the company. In short, MindMaze’s MindLeap “NeuroGoggles” will combine motion capture, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality and neuro-sensing into one do-it-all wearable device.
It’s the world’s first thought-powered AR/VR system – a headset that can read your brainwaves and translate them into virtual movement.
The technology, which tracks and interprets brain signals that control motion, wasn’t originally designed for mainstream gaming. The company’s virtual reality, brain imaging and gaming technologies were developed to retrain the brain in stroke victims and to help amputees with phantom pain.
In a GDC demo that you can watch below, CEO Dr. Tej Tadi demonstrated some simple applications for the MindLeap platform, including a mind-powered tug of war that moved a glowing orb by entering a more relaxed state of mind.
It might seem like a gimmick – after all, toy stores already sell PuzzleBox mind-controlled helicopters, while the IEEE and Emotiv let Mobile World Congress 2015 attendees race brainwave-powered cars using EEG headbands.
But this sort of technology could change the way we interact with games in the future and create new experiences that are unlike anything we can imagine today.
What you can do on current VR hardware is not the end of it
It’s important to remember that virtual reality technology is still in its infancy. “In 10 years, kids growing up will experience the world in a completely different way than we did growing up,” said Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney at GDC. “What you can do on current VR hardware is not the end of it; it’s the start of the revolution… the hardware is Palm Pilots, [compared] to the iPads that will be available in subsequent generations.”
MindLeap hopes to prove that its neuro-sensing technology not only works, but that it has the potential to bring a whole new dimension to gaming.
“You see the capability right now. The next thing we want to do is partner with content creators and game devs. We’ll offer them a kit so they can start building stuff,” Tadi explained to VentureBeat. “What we want to do is make it open source. What we want to do is make this available cross-platform and wireless. So people can do a new way of gaming that’s more accurate.”
You can follow MindLeap’s progress at www.mindmaze.ch.