Neural interfaces arrive in virtual reality headsets

Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve, imagines tomorrow’s game where the eyes, hands and ears would be overwhelmed by the brain. Integrated with virtual reality headsets, the first direct neural interfaces could well arrive in a few years.

Tomorrow, no need for our sensory interfaces to play. The eyes, hands, ears will no longer be necessary to evolve in scenarios, the computer or console will be directly connected to the brain. This is in any case the vision of Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve, the publisher of the famous game Half-Life. Interviewed by the New Zealand media 1 News, he spoke at length about his future vision of video games associated with direct neural interfaces (IND), otherwise known as brain-computer interfaces.

For him, these interfaces will allow players to go beyond their senses, whether they have lost sight or the use of hands. The hands, the eyes will not matter, since these necessary «accessories» in the real world will no longer serve any purpose in the virtual. And it’s not just about theory, Gabe Newell recalled that Valve recently signed a partnership with OpenBCI, a company specializing in open source IND interfaces. This association should make it possible to create a consumer BCI product that can be integrated into a headset initially. He could then interpret brain signals and communicate bilaterally with the brain.

A VR headset to detect emotions

As early as November, OpenBCI had also indicated that it was developing Galea, an IND designed for VR headsets. Eventually, Galea should integrate an electroencephalogram, but also muscle and nerve motion sensors that control them (electromyography), others used to detect eye movements (electrooculography), or the conductive properties of the skin (electrodermal) and also skin heart rate sensors. All this equipment primarily operated by medicine for diagnostics would be associated to evaluate human emotions and facial expressions.

This data would then allow game developers to adapt them to go even further in the immersion experience. Gabe Newell also believes that discoveries in this field are so fast that we should not create a product right now. It would lock in the development of this technology. On the other hand, for him, by 2022 the studios should seriously test these equipment and think about video games around these technologies.

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