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A game controlled directly from the brain

Maradona and Thierry Henry have probably dreamed of: a prototype video game football, led by brain activity developed in the project OpenViBE2, can score goals by imagining the movement ... of the hand.

"Brain Arena", this extremely simplified soccer game developed by INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer and automatic), allows two users to play together or against each other, with nothing but the their brain activity. This is the first brain-computer interface "multiplayer," said Anatole Lécuyer Tuesday (INRIA), which manages the project OpenViBE2 during the presentation of its results to the press.

OpenViBE2 is a collaborative research project on the brain-computer interfaces applied to video games. He took the following OpenViBE, which led in 2009 to the development of a free software download from internet and to develop brain-computer interfaces.
Learning is necessary

With an overall budget of 3 million euros (one million euros in the National Agency for Research), OpenViBE2 led to "major scientific advances," said Dr. Lecuyer more than 50 communications scientists and a dozen prototypes of games developed by seven academic laboratories (INRIA, INSERM, CEA, GIPSA-Lab) and 3 industrial prototypes.

"Brain Arena" is an example. Wearing helmets with electrodes, the two players, very concentrated for the demonstration, imagine the movement of their hand to lead a green dot symbolizing a balloon. It is good to imagine the movement, which activates the motor areas of the brain, and not see the movement, which would otherwise result. "It takes some learning, but it works when it's used," he told AFP Hamid Bessaa, laboratory CHART.
Attention and concentration

CHART tested prototypes at the Cité des Sciences, with some 450 people. "There was a real appetite for the subject," said Dr. Lecuyer. For Aurélien Sérandour Engineer Research and Development of the video game company Ubisoft, part of the project, this technology involves "rethinking how to make video games and provide players with new experiences." The handle strenuous games and extroverts body will discover another dimension of concentration ...

The essential tool for these new experiences is the EEG (electroencephalographic) to record activity emitted by the brain, analyzed and translated into real-time control. "We can start thinking about actually use in video games," said Aurelien Sérandour carefully. But the game industry needs to "progress" on these helmets. Helmets are effective initially used medical but very expensive. Helmets are available on the public internet for a few hundred dollars, but much less accurate.
Helmets for children

he game prototypes developed under OpenViBE2 cover different genres, said Dr. Lecuyer. The casual game with Cocoto Brain (Kylotonn Games) where the player must focus on flashing targets to neutralize enemies. The brain training game with BCI Training Center (Black Sheep Studio). Or the serious game, with therapeutic: a prototype (CLARTE) is for children with disorders of attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clinical evaluation is being implemented.

Through the game, OpenViBE2 has also allowed researchers to broach the problem of attention and concentration. "We have reached a sort of Holy Grail: we know where to look in the brain if you want to measure attention and concentration," said Jean-Philippe Lachaux, director of neuroscience research at Inserm.


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