Mind-control mobile-phone games

Lancaster University researchers have created one of the world’s first mobile-phone games to be controlled by the brain.

Mobile-games researcher Dr Paul Coulton and PhD student Will Bamford of InfoLab21 recently unveiled their new game ‘Brain Maze’, in which players use ‘tilt’ controls and a brain-wave reading headset to progress a marble around a course.

At key checkpoints around the maze, the accelerometer-equipped phone picks up electromagnetic waves from the player’s brain – ‘Brain Maze’ uses alpha waves, which are associated with a meditative state, and beta waves, which are associated with an attentive state, to control access through the ‘mind gates’ that form part of the game.

If players want to get through the mind gates then they literally have to think about it.

Learning to adjust a mental state during the game can take some practice and people often find one state easier to control than others.

The game, which has been designed for Nokia’s N97 phone coupled with NeuroSky’s MindSet brainwave-interface headset, is one of the first of its kind and has been attracting attention in both the mobile and gaming worlds.

Dr Coulton leads the Nokia Mobile Experiences Group, which explores new mobile-phone uses that go way beyond just texting, phoning and taking photographs.

As part of the Forum Nokia Innovation Network, the group focuses on the design, implementation and evaluation of novel, uniquely mobile user experiences, from games to social networking.

Coulton said: ‘While much of the recent press around mobile phones has concerned the emergence of touch-screen devices, this game takes the user’s experience to a whole new level and highlights the possibility of reaching the holy grail of computer interaction – using brain control.’