This story is from the category Education
Date posted: 09/11/2005
Last year, Janet Herlihey?s son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. She tried a very unusual solution to his problem ? VR and video gaming. NASA?s Smart BrainGames system to be precise.
Smart BrainGames uses primitive neuroprosthetic research and monitors son's brain waves through the use of sensors in a helmet while he plays any game. This then modulates the input to the game based on player concentration levels ? for example if the player is really concentrating, it will detect brainwave changes, and deliver changes in-game, such as a racing car suddenly discovering it can go 20mph faster.
The BrainGames technology was originally created at NASA to improve pilots' attention while flying. San Diego-based CyberLearning Technologies obtained an exclusive license for the technology in 2002, and followed up a year later by creating the patented overall learning system.
BrainGames includes a helmet with three sensors, which can be easily attached to the head to measure brain waves. The data feeds a so-called smart box that hangs around the player's neck and is hooked up to the PS2. The smart box is a modified game controller that collects a real-time signal from the brain, or a snapshot of brain activity every 30 seconds. The data is then processed with a program that affects the game.
One racing game, called "Burnout," is modulated for speed. If the child is operating at peak performance and attention, the car will reach 100 mph. But if the child is tired or less attentive, the speed might fall to 70 mph, even when the game controls are pressed with the same exertion. The only way the child can get the car to go faster is to focus.
The system also measures stress. If a child's stress level goes too high, the controller vibrates or disconnects the steering function. The warning teaches concentration without making the child overly stressed.
"They feel that they are in the seat in order to affect the game, versus just pushing a button. They're now using their physiology. It's fully immersive and places the individual in the game," said Domenic Greco, CEO of Cyberlearning Technologies.
In April, CyberLearning began selling its system, which costs $550 directly from its Web site. The company claims that between 1,200 and 1,300 families have used it. In 2004, the company partnered with pediatricians and psychologists to use the software with children diagnosed with ADD.
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