The cursor began to slide and shimmy all over the video screen -- and she hadn't even gotten to the scalpel part yet. The prognosis wasn't good for the patient or for Blanson in the video game "Trauma Center: New Blood."
"My heart is obviously not cooperating," Blanson said, then muttered to herself: "Come on ..."
The cursor settled down at once, and Branson was able spread the gel like a pro.
Blanson was demonstrating a prototype software technology that she helped NASA Langley researchers develop and embed into video games, designed to help gamers maximize their chill and their performance.
To get the cursor back under control, the player must first get herself under control.
Relax. Focus. Achieve what research engineer
"It does sound a little bit counterintuitive, because if you want them to relax, you shouldn't be provoking them," Stephens conceded. "But most players seem to naturally pick up the challenge, and it doesn't rise to the level of frustration."
Players from kids to senior citizens have strapped on the prototype, he said, and had fun with it.
In fact, said co-developer
"Video games, themselves, have unnecessary obstacles that we volunteer to overcome," Pope said. "So what we're doing is adding an additional obstacle for someone to be challenged by. But this particular obstacle is controlling or self-regulating their physiology. To be calm or more focused."
Last week, NASA Langley laid down a different sort of challenge -- this one to entrepreneurs or companies that want to partner with the
"We do want to have our technology assimilated as widely as possible," said
"It's a matter of using very little resources to be able to get the information out to the public, to industry, to universities," Viudez said of the collaboration, which she said costs
"They said they were overwhelmed with not only the number of responses, but the quality of responses," Viudez said.
"But hopefully it's a model that can work with other groups in the organization," Dickson said.
"It's a unique partnership," Viudez said. "We're running this as a pilot, actually. Just another unique way to try to reach potential inventors, potential partners who might be able to think of applications we haven't thought of."
After the challenge ends in August, Dickson said the company's review team will analyze the submissions, assessing for such things as patentability, marketability and best fit with
Once an invention is licensed, said Dickson,
'Longer than a drug'
Stephens and Pope say they hope to hear from video game companies such as
The technology could be applied wherever neurofeedback is useful: in military or astronaut training, for instance, or treatments for mental health issues, addictions or attention deficit disorder.
In fact, said Pope, the physiological modulation concept behind
"It was equal to conventional biofeedback," said Pope, "except the kids were much more willing to come into treatment."
And, he added, the calming effects "last longer than a drug."
"Because it's an internal skill -- and that's one of the advantages touted for brain wave biofeedback for ADD," Pope said. "You might have to return to a training setting for a booster. So it takes sustained practice."
NASA Langley also is working with the addiction clinic at
"If they can calm their brain down and get into a relaxed, almost meditative state," Stephens said, "it will work against the withdrawal issues."
Then NASA Langley researchers realized they could do the same thing using video games, instead.
While the concept of brain-computer interface, or BCI, is booming in medicine and research, Pope said,
"That's the core of our intellectual property," he said.
Dietrich can be reached by phone at 757-247-7892.
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