Lancaster University

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Researchers Developing Mobile Mind Games

01/20/2010 10:46:10

Dr Paul Coulton
Dr Paul Coulton

If you thought mobile gaming was all about down time then think again, Lancaster University researchers have created one of the world’s first mobile phone games to be driven by brain power.

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

At key checkpoints round 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’ which 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 your 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 the both the mobile and the gaming world.

Dr Coulton leads the Nokia Mobile Experiences Group which explores new uses for mobile phones which go way beyond just texting, phoning and taking photographs. As part of the Forum Nokia Innovation Network the experiences group focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of novel, uniquely mobile user experiences from games to social networking.

He said: “Whilst much of the recent press around mobile phones has concerned the emergence of touch screen devices this game takes the users experience to a whole new level and highlights the possibility of reaching the holy grail of computer interaction - using brain control.”

About Nokia Innovation Network at Lancaster University

The UK's Nokia Innovation Network hub is based at Lancaster University which is consistently rated amongst the top ten universities in the country. It is managed by Paul Coulton and housed within InfoLab21, an international centre for excellence in ICT. The group at Lancaster has an international reputation in mobile applications research and have won a number of Awards for innovation.