New research seeks to make you 'unconsciously relate' to virtual worlds

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 accordancewith 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 mentionedthat it is experimenting with biofeedback and games. Severalother companieshave also applied unconscious feedbackand brain wave sensing as control mechanisms.And we all remember the unreleasedWii Vitality Sensor, which monitors a user's heartbeat, likely for really boring applications, like relaxation.

We may bea long wayfrom floating naked in jars while being plugged into the universal mind-hive, but hey, at least we're making progress.


Sep 8, 2010

Valve has three big surprises for us, is experimenting with biometrics
Just change your name to Aperature Science already

Real videogame mind control. We've used it.
Could it be? Playing Unreal Tournament 3 with the power of our thoughts? Yes it could. The Matrix is nearly here

Your brain on games
How your hobby is changing the gray mush inside your skull

Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.