Games in Science and Technology

FWD News: From Mind to Crowd Control

The intendiX EEG HelmetWhen it comes to controlling and manipulating interactive software, most people immediately think of buttons and switches. However, three companies are using the potential of thoughts and movements to give power to the people.

Canadian company InteraXon displayed its mind-reading interface at the Ontario Olympic Pavilion during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. There, visitors were able to change light colours thousands of kilometres away, simply by thinking of a different colour while wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) helmet. The technology was also featured shining on Niagara Falls, the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and the CN Tower in Toronto. Read More...

One person even used the interface to send out a Twitter message, explained InteraXon CEO Trevor Colman. “That may sound frivolous, but to someone who lost the power of speech that can be life-changing,” he said.

Similarly, Austrian firm g.tec has created a home-based EEG system allowing users to communicate via specialized computer software. With the intendiX system, users can select characters from an on-screen keyboard by concentrating on a letter for several seconds.

Beyond giving individuals the power to communicate, the system can also be used to trigger alarms, read-out written text, send text via email, or print it as well as to activate external devices.

While the software’s performance levels vary between users and depending on the severity of the disability of a given patient, the equipment can significantly improve their quality of life.

Crowd-Controlled Gaming

Another Canadian company is putting using novel technology to get crowds at sporting events in the game. Bent 360: MediaLab Inc. recently presented CrowdWave, an interactive system that captures crowd movements to control a video game projected on the scoreboard.

CrowdWave was recently featured at an Ottawa, Canada AAA Hockey League arena and more prominently at the Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

For the Cavaliers, the company has created a tip-off game where fans watched two virtual players jump for a ball tossed in the air by a referee. Fans were encouraged to jump with the virtual players, as eight cameras monitored them. The arena sections where fans jumped the highest and participated the most won the tip-off.

Other sport teams are now considering the technology. “We are in talks with 12 other NBA and NHL teams,” said Mark Edwards, president and founder of Bent 360.