Nervous in a fire-fight? Anxious in a raid? Until now, gamers have been able to mask their inner-most emotions behind a headset, but according to new research from Spain, there may soon come a day when everyone online will be able to see you sweat.
Researchers from the University of Barcelona have wrapped up an experiment which saw its volunteers poked and prodded for unconscious data which was used to determine the actions and behaviors of their computer generated counterparts. The test (presumably conducted in a dark, shady, underground facility) measured its willing subjects for a number of human physiological parameters including heart rate, respiration and skin responses. The real-time info was then fed to virtual avatars in a make-believe waiting room who nervously tapped their feet and engaged in mild panic attacks in accordance with the data.
"The ultimate aim is to develop a method which allows humans to unconsciously relate with some parts of the virtual environment more intensely than with others," said researcher Christoph Groenegress, while (again, presumably) twiddling his fingers in a slow, methodical fashion. "We maintain that the linking of subjective corporal states to a virtual reality can improve the sensation of realism that a person has of this reality and, eventually, create a stronger link between humans and this virtual reality.”
While the idea of controlling games with our bodies and minds is nothing new, the concept of getting the shakes before a zombie raid or locking up in a frantic deathmatch is nonetheless promising. Most recently, Valve has mentioned that it is experimenting with biofeedback and games. Several other companies have also applied unconscious feedback and brain wave sensing as control mechanisms. And we all remember the unreleased Wii Vitality Sensor, which monitors a user's heartbeat, likely for really boring applications, like relaxation.
We may be a long way from floating naked in jars while being plugged into the universal mind-hive, but hey, at least we're making progress.
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