A team of engineers at Stanford University has developed a hand-held controller that allows video games to adapt to a player’s level of engagement.
For instance, if a player’s heart rate, blood flow, rate of breath and other physiological signals show he or she is bored with an unchallenging game, the controller can gather that information from the individual’s hands and increase the level of difficulty.
When players are engaged, their heart rate and breathing generally become faster, Gregory Kovacs, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and head of the laboratory where the prototype controller was developed in collaboration with Texas Instruments, told EFE.
The engineers removed the back panel from an Xbox 360 controller and replaced it with a 3-D printed plastic module equipped with sensors that measure gamers’ blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and breathing rate and depth.
Users’ arms and hands transmit signals that indicate what is happening internally, the professor told EFE.
Created in Kovacs’ laboratory under the leadership of doctoral candidate Corey McCall, the controller has sparked the interest of several companies in the video game and entertainment industry.
This non-invasive system for measuring autonomic nervous system activity has numerous applications beyond the world of gaming, Kovacs said, noting that it could be used to prevent traffic accidents.
Sleepy drivers continue to be a major cause of car crashes, he said, adding that many lives could be saved by using sensors on the steering wheel to monitor motorists’ level of alertness.