Stanford doctoral candidate Corey McCall with funding from Texas Instruments believes that he has developed a game controller that measures human physiology and would allow game developers an opportunity to change the way a game is played based on human emotions.
A game that adapts to your mood
The controller measures autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity during game play. The ANS controls various involuntary visceral functions like heart rate, skin temperature, breathing, sweating, swallowing, even sexual arousal – much of which can be measured by the controller. This, in theory, would allow game developers to know that you are getting angry and potentially make the game easier for a spell. Conversely, if the controller senses calm – or worse, disengaged – the came could pick up the pace and difficulty level in order to return the gamer to the world that the developers created.
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How the Xbox 360 controller was made
In order to make the controller, McCall and his team took a factory model Xbox 360 controller and removed the back panel. Using a 3D-printed plastic module installed with sensors they installed the new back panel. Following that the team installed metal pads on the controller to measure heart rate, rate of breath and how deeply the user is breathing, and blood flow. Not believing this was enough, an additional light-operated sensor was installed to provide a second heart-rate measure as well as accelerometers to measure the frenetic level of the gamer’s hand movements.
“You can see the expression of a person’s autonomic nervous system in their heart rate and skin temperature and respiration rate, and by measuring those outputs, we can understand what’s happening in the brain almost instantaneously,” Said McCall.
Clearly we have come a long ways from Atari’s Pong and its not a stretch to see a controller similar to this one introduced to the public in the near future. While GTA IV has been hailed as an extraordinary game, it might be fun to find out how much you truly enjoy shooting prostitutes on a physiological level.