Your Brainwaves as a Story Steering Wheel
StoryUP releases first brain-computer interface title for GearVR
“Are those really my brainwaves?” People frequently ask me that question when we demo our Positivity app. The new title set to release publicly on GearVR soon is powered by your brain’s left frontal gamma activity. Only when I startle them and they see the waves jump do they understand that their mind is indeed controlling the immersive story.
Even with diagnostic EEG at a hospital, rarely do you get the opportunity to watch your brainwaves react in real-time. In a VR headset, it’s kind of mesmerizing. As the user watches their pattern move across the screen wearing a Muse meditation headband, it’s as if they’re seeing their neurological reflection for the first time. They aren’t just watching the story. In a way, they’re feeling it.
BCI or brain-computer interfaces are not new. A UCLA Professor coined the term in a research paper in the 1970’s. Neuro-gaming’s first conference was held in San Francisco in 2013. However just like with VR headsets, the new lower form factor, ease of use, and portability of these devices that use EEG are enabling content creators like StoryUP to harness brain power to drive immersive experiences.
Your left frontal gamma activity in the brain is commonly associated with feelings of Positivity. Just as you can control your heart-rate by slowing your breathing, so too can you control gamma by thinking happy thoughts. It’s kind of like a Happiness game. — Dr. Jeff Tarrant, Neuromeditation Institute
In “Positivity”, the more the asymmetrical gamma activity reaches a certain threshold, the higher you float up the side of a beautiful waterfall. Our platform for positivity and other feelings like empathy and motivation is used in areas of situational, acute, and workplace stress from sales teams… to sailors aboard the USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean.
StoryUP started in 2014 as a way to help aging Veterans see their memorials. The Missouri company now has a library of experiences for areas of acute, situational, and workplace stress categorized by brainwave patterns. StoryUP’s “kits” are used in enterprise from sales teams to sailors aboard the USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean. StoryUP’s stories and affirmations span five continents. The positivity BCI project is a collaboration with the Neuromeditation Institute in Corvallis, OR, Everywoah in Spain, Immersion.reallife, and StoryUP in Columbia, MO. It’s the first VR experience powered by Muse, a meditation headband and potentially the first BCI title for GearVR. (someone please check me on this?) In three pilot studies, some of our experiences quieted brain regions associated with the stress response in as little as four minutes.
It used to be a brain-computer interface required messy gels, lots of sensors over your scalp, and a technician to set it up. Now an EEG strip attached to a
headband is enabling users to navigate media with their minds. (Photo credit: Muse ) Keep in mind, we’re not using these tools for diagnostics or to cure any medical condition. We’re using BCI as a storytelling input. Much as a computer mouse interacts with media, so too does what Facebook calls the “brain mouse”.
Facebook announced at F8 it’s built a brain mouse that can type 60 words a minute with someone’s thoughts. Companies are already working on neuro-computing operating systems that will allow you to navigate hands free right or left, click on media, or even scroll with your brainwaves. Way.
Soon, more VR headsets will have brainwave sensors baked into the facemasks for the user to control the experience with their thoughts. Looxi Labs is already building a neural-analytics platform. Vive earlier this year announced a partnership with Neurable. Although this setup requires a gaming PC and for now a tethered connection, more and more neuro-media experiences like “Positivity” will be coming to mobile and standalone VR headsets.
At the end of “Positivity” if you make it back to the bottom of the waterfall, you’ll have the opportunity to watch a story about a group of aging Veterans who are no longer able to physically travel. They’re using VR to experience their memorials as their health won’t allow them to travel on in-person Honor Flights to Washington, DC.
As our interactions on social media become more negative, this new VR title is an attempt to become more self-aware of the power of positivity. Our thoughts have always had the ability to control environments ……not only in the virtual but the real world as well. If you have a VR headset, please consider sharing your own positivity with an aging Veteran by sharing your VR headset with them and donating to your local Honor Flight hub. Currently, there are +100 aging Veterans on a waiting list to virtually visit their memorials.
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