If you’re like me, you’re sick and tired of waiting for the bleak robot dystopia outlined in films like Terminator and The Matrix. I want complete AI domination and I want it now! Thanks to Australia-based electronics company Emotiv Systems, the robot overlord is one step closer to ruling the world with a chrome fist.
The EPOC headset is a fashionable helmet that can read your thoughts – through the use of 16 brain-wave sensors – and translate them to your character on screen. It can read your emotions (if you get bored, it cranks up the difficulty) and expressions and it will ask you to imagine 11 cognitive actions – including lift, push, and pull. No, you cannot jack into the matrix, locate wayward mutants, or, as I had hoped, have sex with a virtual Anne Hathaway.
The technology is rooted in electroencephalograpohy, or EEG, where skullcaps with sensors intercept brain activity. Emotiv took this technology and spent five years applying it to a commercial product. Tan Le, the CEO of Emotiv, admits that EPOC has potential outside of video games, but they aren’t thinking that far ahead yet.
Brian Crecente, managing editor of Kotaku, had a chance to try the headset out, but wasn’t completely convinced.
“I don’t see it being a mainstream device in this form. That said, it’s certainly beyond a gimmick. Game issues aside, it’s uncanny.”
That sentiment was echoed by Jamil Moledina, executive director of the Game Developers Conference.
“When the (item on-screen) did what I thought it to do, it was surreal. This is science-fiction stuff. (Emotiv) has jumped the first hurdle in simply making the device. Now, they have to make it work with most games. If they do, this could hit the jackpot.”
Our very own Dan Landis attempted to check it out at GDC, and had the following to say about the device in his day two wrap up of the event:
“We headed from there to a press conference about the Emotiv headset, a device that reads your thoughts, emotions, and facial expressions. The event was almost a complete train wreck, mainly because the douchebags in the audience refused to disconnect themselves from dork headquarters — all those wireless signals in the room were messing up the headset’s reception.”
Personally, as curious as I am about the possibilities, I’m just as apprehensive. It sounds fantastic on paper, but, despite not having played it, I agree with Crecente’s assessment. I won’t call it a gimmick, but I think it will face the same problems trying to please gamers that the Nintendo Wii did (and still does). While I definitely want to take the EPOC for a whirl, I’m not getting excited just yet. Plus, I was really looking forward to having sex with Anne Hathaway.