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  A Brain-Computer Interface For ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2007-10-16 by Tony Walsh
Throw away your keyboards and mice: Second Life avatars may now be controlled directly by the brain, thanks researchers at Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory. According to blog Pink Tentacle, which translated a news release from Nikkei Net, a user wearing an electrode-studded headpiece can control an avatar in 3D space simply by thinking about moving. Based on a YouTube video of the process (below), control over the avatar is very precise--not what I pictured based on early brain-computer interface experiments.

In 2005, a biofeedback project was started for use in Second Life, where data such as heart rate, skin conductivity, and brainwaves was to be leveraged for game play. Although Linden Lab head honcho Philip Rosedale expressed interest in the project, it eventually withered away. I can see a renewed interest in such projects from the physically fit to the physically-challenged due to the startling success of Keio University's research.

Wilde Cunningham, an avatar jointly controlled by nine people with cerebral palsy as part of the Live2Give project two years ago would doubtless be eager to try mind control. Project co-founder, avatar John Prototype (a.k.a. John Lester, now a Linden employee), said at the time "In real life, they are confined to wheelchairs...unable to do the simplest things. But in Second Life, they can see their thoughts become reality." It seems likely that a consumer-level brain-control device would make Prototype's earlier statement literally, rather than figuratively true.

The Keio University project is the latest--but not newest--venture into brain-controlled virtual reality. A 2006 project developed by University College London allowed a paraplegic to explore a virtual cave by thinking about moving his feet. In 2004, a man wired to a computer was reportedly able to "operate a TV, open e-mail and play Pong with 70% accuracy." If Keio University's video is to be believed, brain-computer interfaces have come a long, long way in the last few years.
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Comment posted by qDot
October 16, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

Ok, 'nuff of that. Anyways, funny enough, the timing of this coincides with me resurrecting the InnerLife project.

I've got my own lightstone drivers written now, and am working on getting things hooked into SL.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 16, 2007 @ 5:57 pm
Hey that's frikkin cool, qDot. I do have your LJ Bloglined, but I think it's buried in a folder somewhere. Hard to keep on top of everything now that I'm a dad :)
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