Engineers at Stanford have redesigned a Xbox 360 controller and turned it into a new device that could revolutionize interactive gaming. Although companies like Sony and Nintendo have been trying to patent a controller that can monitor the bio-data of a player in order to make the game more interesting, such a prototype gadget was created in the lab of Gregory Kovacs, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford in collaboration with Texas Instruments. With the help of the modified controller, gaming companies can alter a game if a player gets bored or remind a child that he has played enough for the moment.
A redesigned Xbox 360 controller made at Stanford could revolutionize interactive gaming and offer companies a new device which measures the players’ emotions. In a lab belonging to Gregory Kovacs, professor of electrical engineering, a team of engineers have come up with a way to sense gamers’ emotions with the help of a non-intrusive method; Corey McCall, doctoral candidate in Kovacs’ lab has focused his work on the autonomic nervous system, the emotional part of the brain which alters when people are happy, sad or go through other mental states. The goal of creating practical ways of measuring physiological signals to conclude how a person’s bodily systems work can now be done through a Xbox 360 controller. According to McCall, measuring the heart rate, temperature, respiration rate, perspiration and other essential bodily processes offers insight into what happens in the brain.
What This Means for Gamers
Stanford engineers who redesigned a Xbox 360 controller could revolutionize interactive gaming by offering a new device that monitors people in varied mental states and gathers information from the players’ hands. In order to transform his idea into reality, McCall replaced the back panel of a Xbox 360 controller and replaced it with a 3-D printed plastic module which contains sensors; the small metal pads measure the gamer’s heart rate, blood flow, how deeply he is breathing and the rate of breath.
A second heart rate measurement is made with the help of another light-operated sensor and an accelerometer senses how excitedly the person is shaking the controller. At the same time, a custom-built software indicates the intensity of the game and, after all the data is gathered, McCall can conclude how mentally involved the player is in the game with the help of the modified Xbox 360 controller.
The altered controller was first unveiled during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January and received positive interest, especially since the gadget can be used to offer feedback to the gaming console, so that it can change the pace of the gameplay. The advantages of a new Xbox 360 controller that follows the specifications made by McCall will not allow a gamer to get bored ever again. “If a player wants maximum engagement and excitement,” the controller senses when he or she is bored and the gameplay changes. At the same time, such a device is also good for children; McCall believes that parents who are worried that their children are spending too much time playing video games and are too mentally involved in the game can now put their minds at ease. The doctoral candidate suggests that the team of engineers can reduce the game’s intensity or warn the children “that it’s time for a healthy break.”
Although tech titans like Nintendo and Sony have been trying to patent such a device that could revolutionize interactive gaming, Stanford engineers took their idea to the next level and modified a Xbox 360 controller in order to suit the needs of a gamer.
By Gabriela Motroc