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Comment C'mon, This Isn't News (Score 2, Insightful) 145

This is just another tired P300 system. Yes, it works, eventually, with practice, and with a messy setup. But the signal was discovered in 1965, and this is far from the first implementation of it, or even the first mass-market computerized commercial one (which I think was IntendiX, though that was pretty recently).

Comment Re:Recommendation (Score 2, Interesting) 100

Personally, my answer in "no". Fallout 3 doesn't showcase the intelligent writing of the first games, or immerse the player in the same way. It feels uninspired to me (the old "Oblivion with guns" critique sounds right) and suffers from some poor design choices, despite a ton of great work going into the visual environment. So as you guessed, it's not the same. Fortunately I can see it as a work from different people, so it doesn't ruin anything for me!

Comment Re:Could be a half-decent toy, if priced well (Score 2, Insightful) 112

As someone *else* familiar with BCI research, I can back that up, $299 would be a good deal if the software is any better than openEEG. Buyers should be aware however that their website makes some really far-out claims for the device, and that the marketing is realllly shady. Plus, as I've pointed out here before, I've heard firsthand from one of the biggest names in the field that he met with the President of this company who failed to demonstrate that this device could do anything. Even the best in academia can get only wobbly control in 2d... thus the odds are very low that their 2d cursor control, even with tons of practice and a bald head, is going to be good enough for shooters.

To give them credit though, it might be good enough for pac-man! And if done properly it could get kids excited about neuroscience.

Comment Re:"Less Invasive"? (Score 1) 156

It sounds like you know what you're talking about, and as far as I can tell, you're correct on most counts. The problem is that what you consider signal (synch/desynch of 1Hz freq bands), I consider mostly noise. My belief, and what I probably should have written earlier, is that even with *infinite* computational speed and power, there just won't be enough signal to power 2D cursor control like we have with a mouse. The scheme you suggest might be functional, but I suspect it'd require a whole lot of biofeedback training for even a crappy signal, where "crappy" means being able to maneuver a mouse cursor from the center to one of 4 edges to the screen with maybe 90% accuracy. EEG (by itself) just won't work for gamers, at least, for a very long time.

Comment P300 Explanation and Anecdotal Info (Score 2, Informative) 99

This system has been around for a while; I've seen it demonstrated live twice, and it didn't work at all either time. In my opinion, even in best conditions (bald patient, shit-tons of electrodes, professional setup, well-trained subject) it doesn't work well enough to fuel science-fiction fantasies, and probably never well. For locked-in patients, who can do nothing but move their eyes, though, it's an awesome technology. They made a movie recently about such a patient who spent years using it to write a novel: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401383/.

Here's how it works - metal electrodes on the brain (EEG) pick up an analog signal, and *any* stimulus which is particularly salient to a subject creates a spike in the signal 300ms after that stimulus appears (this spike is called the P300, there's a good wiki article on it). If you have a dude staring at a grid of letters, you can tell which one he's looking at by hunting for the big spikes 300 ms after the right letter flashes. The only problem is the signal-to-noise ratio, which is notoriously terrible in EEG, though of course there are people out there working on improving it.

Comment Don't believe the hype (Score 5, Informative) 154

I did a final project on the limits of EEG (electroencephalography, or getting-signals-using-electrodes-on-scalp, which is what this is) for a neurotechnology seminar last semester, and compared my findings to the claims made by Emotiv. The result: some of the things they claim this device can do are actually impossible and always will be, and others are extremely unlikely unless they've made some seriously groundbreaking discoveries. (Mediocre two-dimensional movement, for example, has been generated by EEG, but it'd be impossible with their headset unless they have some sick new algorithms.) The professor of the same course actually met with the president of Emotiv, who failed to demonstrate that the device could do anything.

Last I checked, their marketing videos are ridiculously flashy while showing no real control capability. My belief: EEG headsets like these, at best, will be controllable only by facial muscles (which completely overshadow the electrical potential generated by the brain) and by alpha rhythm amplitude, a very slow control signal demonstrated in "BrainBall", which was posted to slashdot some time earlier. At worst these headsets will be near-worthless devices, their sales supported entirely by false promises and media hype.

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