The unofficial motto for any hackathon may as well be “From sleep deprivation, inspiration!”
As an example, during the AVRA Days Minsk 30-hour hackathon, 4 I Lab quickly came up with a use for the brainwave-sensing headband they had acquired recently. As the headband uses electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrical activity in the brain and measure whether the user is relaxed or focused, the studio’s team quickly transformed the headband into a controller for a proof-of-concept VR game called The X-Power. The idea was to use player concentration to control telekinesis – the player concentrated on and levitated NPCs hanging from a destroyed bridge, used their eyesight to move them to a destination point, then released the NPC.
The studio noted that while they had some expertise in VR, thanks to their games Ahros: One Warrior Chronicle and Drunk or Dead, the Minsk hackathon was their first time experimenting with EEG-based interfaces. The decision to undertake the challenge proved a success, as The X-Power was awarded the Best VR for Business from AVRA Days Minsk Hackathon.
According to the studio, The X-Power demonstrated that EEG technology is reliable enough to be used in games, especially once players became accustomed to manipulating their concentration; once the learning curve was completed, players at the hackathon easily grabbed and released objects. The studio thinks that this kind of neural interface technology can be implemented in any kind of game and will be able to provide deeper immersion in gaming.
The interface combination is as-yet unnamed, but 4 I Lab is interested in exploring the possibilities inherent in the technology. While the equipment they have on hand can only read levels of concentration and relaxation, the studio believes the technology will eventually mature to the point that the neural interface will replace controllers in all fields of life, especially for people unable to use standard control interfaces.
“Our goal is to reveal a full potential of Neural Interface as a controller for Virtual Reality and use it to provide deeper immersion for all kinds of players, including players with special needs, who are not able to use regular controllers,” said Mikhail Yurchanka, CEO of 4 I Lab.