Skip to main content

Future game consoles will get under your skin


The Hasso Plattner Institute's prototype requires players to attach electrodes directly to their forearms to stimulate the musclesImagine playing through a level of the popular zombie shooter "Left 4 Dead" on a system that tracks your heart rate, eye movements, even how clammy your skin is getting, all to measure just how scared you are.For 250 lucky — or extremely unlucky — test subjects, fear-based gaming was a reality, at least in an experimental program led by the game studio Valve. If the game could sense that a player was already frightened and frantic, it might ramp up the difficulty to make the gameplay even more frightening and frantic. The point? To make "Left 4 Dead" more fun, of course.


Valve's resident experimental psychologist, Mike Ambinder, said at a conference in San Francisco that the bio-sensitive tests "worked pretty well."
Game makers have struggled to escape the confines of the console for decades, and countless failed products like Nintendo's "Virtual Boy" system show an industry that's still trapped. In the last five years, motion gaming from the likes of Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox Kinect has excited audiences, but it's not hard core: the best titles tend to be party games and fitness apps. Motion control may have brought players closer to their consoles, but a future generation of consoles, wearable and bioaware, will get closer to the players — and maybe even inside of them.
Left 4 Dead
Would you want to play "Left 4 Dead" if the zombies could literally sense your fear? Valve is hoping that this kind of biofeedback will make its popular shooter even more fun.
Right now, game controllers have rumble packs and "impulse" triggers to let you feel the game as you advance. So how do you make force feedback even more authentic? By sending electrical impulses straight into the muscles of your arms, of course.
"On smartphones, you usually have these little games," Pedro Lopes a Ph.D. student who worked on this project at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute, told NBC News. "But I wanted to see: Can we bring this extra degree of immersion? What people canonically have done is use motors. But those are big and heavy. Instead, we use your muscle as a motor."
For the study, Lopes and the rest of the team set participants up with a flying game to play on a smartphone. First, they used a motor-based system, then they used electrodes attached to their forearms. Overwhelmingly, the subjects opted for the "shock."
"They would say things like: 'I feel like this force is really coming from the game!'" Lopes said.
Augmented Reality Gaming
Dekko plans to release a table-top board game later this year that will be projected onto physical surfaces with its augmented reality software.
Augmented reality, virtual reality ... or just reality?To researchers like Ambinder and Lopes, biofeedback is an essential ingredient for enhancing gameplay. But that's not to say it's the only ingredient. As the excitement for early stage prototypes like the virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift show, games are still evolving visually as well.
And while virtual reality is particularly alluring for all the "Matrix" imagery it conjures, it's not the only way to mess with reality.
Just take Dekko — a startup that recently raised $3.2 million in venture capital funding. It's releasing what founder and chief executive Matt Miesnieks likes to call a "real-world operating system."
"Everybody has some sort of imagination," Miesnieks told NBC News. "We would love to bring that to life. For instance, if you're a child, you might think, 'Wouldn't it be great if my Mickey Mouse doll could get up and start talking to me?'"
For its first in-house app, to be released later this year, Miesnieks said that Dekko is developing a tabletop boardgame that can be played entirely with computer-generated images.
Future Gaming Consoles
In the video games of the future, the human body may be the most powerful console of all.
"If you wanted to believably immerse the player in the real world, the object had to feel like the real world," Miesnieks said. He thinks that his company can finally give people "the moon" that "we were promised" — instead of "cardboard spaceships."
We're not in "The Matrix" ... yetWhile total immersion is something game companies continually promise, is it something we even want? Football fans may relish the opportunity to stand in RGIII's shoes when playing "Madden NFL," but they probably don't want to feel his pain when a 350-pound lineman barrels into him.

Speaking at Kill Screen's recent gaming conference twofivesix, Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift headset, said that a big part of his job right now is "managing expectations" between the enthusiasts who expect "The Matrix" and the critics that see another Virtual Boy-style flop in the making.
Similarly, Lopes said that "we're obviously very far" from seeing anything like his electrodes pop up on Amazon, or even Kickstarter.
"The research we do is very vision-driven; these are not things that you'll have in your home next year," he said. "Maybe they will impact technology in 10 years."
Oculus Rift
Invented by twenty year old tinkerer and gearhead Palmer Luckey, the Oculus Rift is being heralded as the first device that will succeed in making virtual reality a tangible possibility for game developers.
While the software required for any AR system is certainly sophisticated, Miesnieks insisted that the real failure isn't that it simply doesn't exist. "The problem is that it's ugly and expensive," he said. But "Google seems to address that, which is really exciting."
Google Glass — the head-worn, video-capturing computer system — is certainly a beacon of hope for this kind of gaming gear, just as "life bands" like the Jawbone UP are for any developer hoping to make biofeedback sound like something other than pure geekiness.
But Evan Selinger, a professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, noted that there's something that may make these new kinds of gaming systems a reality sooner than expected: advertising.
A researcher may not care about collecting reams of data on a person's physiological or emotional state. But how enticing does that prospect sound to a company like Sony or Microsoft that is trying to ramp up e-commerce for its always-connected retail system?via : MSNBC

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LG’s first flexible OLED phone due before the year is out

LG plans to launch a flexible OLED smartphone before the end of the year, the company’s VP of mobile has confirmed, though it’s unclear to what extent the work-in-progress handset will actually flex. The OLED panel in question is the handiwork of LG Display according to VP of LG mobile Yoon Bu-hyun, the WSJ  reports, with the proposed device set to launch sometime in Q4. LG Display’s work on flexible OLEDs has been underway for some time, though the company’s efforts have perhaps been overshadowed somewhat by rival Samsung’s YOUM development. Last year, according to a Korea Times report, LG Display was preparing for

Syrian Electronic Army claims credit for CBS Twitter accounts hack

Yesterday, several of CBS ’s Twitter accounts were hacked, including its main account, and its accounts for 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, and CBS Denver. The hackers got into the account and tweeted a series of things relating to President Obama and the United States being in cahoots with Al-Qaeda . The tweets also had links that led users to malware-infested sites. While CBS was able to regain access to its accounts, it was unable to figure out who was behind the attacks, until now. The Syrian Electronic Army , the same group that hacked 3 of the BBC’s Twitter accounts, claimed

Can Technology Do a Better Job of Finding Bombs?

 With the horrifying images of the Boston Marathon bombing still much too fresh in our minds, and with citywide marathons coming up this weekend in London, Hamburg, and Salt Lake City , law enforcement officers and citizens everywhere are asking how to prevent the tragedy from being repeated. As Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs adjunct professor Abraham Wagner observed last year, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, there’s “no magic bullet o