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From Eyeball Pong to Influential Gamers - Easter Weekend News Roundup 2010

Jonathan Lester
Games news, Halo Reach, Mol, Molyneux, Pong, PS3, Sony
Halo: Reach

Students Create Eye Movement Peripheral

From Eyeball Pong to Influential Gamers - Easter Weekend News Roundup 2010

Who needs a PS3, Xbox or Wii with their fancy new peripherals... when the grandfather of gaming now sports the coolest input method of all time (apart from Steel Batallion, of course). Undergraduate students at Imperial College London have created a staggering piece of neurotechnology that allows Pong to be played simply by moving their eyes... on a budget.

The premise is simple: a webcam monitors eye movement and a clever piece of biometry software  syncs the motion to the game. But don't take my word for it...

“Remarkably, our undergraduates have created this piece of neurotechnology using bits of kit that you can buy in a shop, such as webcams.”

"The game that they've developed is quite simple, but we think it has enormous potential, particularly because it doesn't need lots of expensive equipment."- Mr. Faisal, ICL Bioengineering Team Supervisor

The implications are huge. Sure, at the moment it's only Pong... but what if the same low-cost concept could be applied to a motorised wheelchair? Or speech software. Or a smarthouse. Who said that games never helped anyone? [The Hindu via VG247]

Penny Arcade and Molyneux more Influential than Clinton (Time Poll)

From Eyeball Pong to Influential Gamers - Easter Weekend News Roundup 2010

Time Magazine is currently running an online poll to determine the year's most influential people... and it appears that gamers have been making their mark. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the founders and talent behind Penny Arcade, are currently ranked at number 43- closely followed by Lionhead/Natal dev Peter Molyneux at number 44 [at the time of writing- Ed]. This places them above such luminaries as Bill Clinton, Arnie, Clint Eastwood, Steve Jobs and over 150 others.

Then again, Lady Gaga's topping the list at the moment. I don't think that they'll be taking the results too seriously... [Time Magazine]

Reach Update: Armour Locks and Shield Pops

From Eyeball Pong to Influential Gamers - Easter Weekend News Roundup 2010

Bungie's dropped another marathon (no pun intended) Reach Update- and whilst Halo fans can merrily hit the link, I'll do my best to quickly sum up the juiciest info.

Weapon and armour abilities are picked from a predetermined list that's tailored by Bungie to match the level at hand- sorry folks, there's no CoD-style custom loadouts. These new abilities include jetpacks, dodge rolls, super speed, armour lock (invulnerability) and invisibility; each of which has their own disadvantage as well as powerful strengths.

The new "popping" shield system will take some getting used to. It will be necessary to completely lower an opponent's shield before dealing health damage as there's no overlap between the last shield attack and the first unprotected hit. Whilst this is unlikely to affect your everyday life (and yes, I admit, it sounds fairly boring), this will certainly affect the face of Halo's melee combat and its online multiplayer in general.

The new weapons are also looking highly sweet- frankly, I can't wait to get my hands on them. The grenade launcher is looking especially tasty, with a remote detonator linked to how long you hold down the trigger. It'll be interesting to see how they handle in the upcoming Beta. [Bungie]

Gamers Threaten to Sue Sony over 3.21

From Eyeball Pong to Influential Gamers - Easter Weekend News Roundup 2010

Sony's latest firmware update has been causing a massive publicity backlash, since it removes the PS3's ability to support other operating systems (which was a unique selling point of the original fat models). This is fantastic news for gaming journalists everywhere, as it provides us with a juicy scandal that's chock full of divisive content that's bound to rake in the fanboy views.

Most gamers simply won't be affected by 3.21, but the minority are making their voices heard. The interweb's been rife with comments from both sides, and now the following message seems to be cropping up everywhere we look.

If you have been affected by Sony's 3.21 update file a complaint to the BBB and the FTC and your corresponding Attorney General.

It is very easy and completely online forms. Just go to the respective websites

www. bbb .org / us / --- click on file a complaint

www. ftccomplaintassistant .gov --- click on complaint assistant

There's possible grounds for a class action here- after all, many gamers have already installed operating systems for perfectly legal purposes. Check out both sides of the argument in our recent Game Buzz!

Add a comment8 comments
John  Apr. 4, 2010 at 14:24

Ten years ago eye controlled pong wouldn't have been very impressive as more complex systems were already available and in current times there are far more sophisticated products. TrackIR is a commercially available product that can use head movement as an input to the game while OCZ have produced the 'Neural Impulse Activator' (it isn't an April Fools either) which using a headband uses your thoughts as controls for the game.


Jonathan Lester  Apr. 4, 2010 at 14:58

Creating a eye-controlled input system from a couple of webcams is pretty impressive IMO- especially from a group of undergrads.

The 'thought' controls don't exactly control a game- rather, they control a specialised tech demo. I personally think that this ICL system will be extremely viable considering the readily available, cheap technology- though arguably more useful for medical applications in the long run.

Valve are convinced that biometrics and eye movement are the future of gaming. This is an interesting step in the right direction.

John McLaggan  Apr. 4, 2010 at 15:15

This feels like a post from the past, I cannot see what is impressive about such a basic system - more sophisticated eye controlled systems were available when I was at University which as much as I don't like to admit it was a long time ago. It looks particularly old hat when there are commercial off the shelf products which function as a neural interface giving more axis of control and amongst other aspects being able to play Pong with the motion of your jaw - even that is now three years old and frankly the potential offered by that type of system is far more exciting.


Jonathan Lester  Apr. 4, 2010 at 15:35

I agree, but I think you're missing the point I'm trying to make.

A group of undergrad students have proved that eye control can be accomplished with existing tech and cheap technology rather than fantastically expensive peripherals. The fact that most eye/head motion controls are still extremely dear (and have an extremely small market) makes their achievement all the more remarkable.

Yup  Apr. 4, 2010 at 15:42

Imperial College does have the best students, after all...

John McLaggan  Apr. 4, 2010 at 15:53

I'm missing something but you seem to be missing the fact it's 2010 not 1995. Existing systems aren't that expensive at all (even OCZ's exotic neural system is under the 100 pound mark) while the trackIR system is just over 100 pounds. The fact it's cheap technology is irrevelent, if anything it should be much more impressive given vision technology has really moved on in ten years.

You also have to bear in mind this is just a very simple prototype - in reality if this was commercially released system it's unlikely to be as inexpensive as claimed particularly to be able to cope with many different factors such as poor lighting which is where cheaper hardware tends to let itself down in machine vision.


Gunn  Apr. 4, 2010 at 18:37

I agree its not that impressive in terms of what's out their commercially, but from experience I know it can be a bit of work to code up a decent recognition system using a standard web cam. The University I was at was using such technology to monitor drivers eyes, incase they fell asleep at the wheel, and that was back in 96/97, unsure if anything commercial is out there, certainly not heard of it.

John  Apr. 4, 2010 at 18:53

I'm not claiming it's particularly easy to do, just that it's nothing special in 2010 - I genuinely thought when I read the title this was an April Fools joke as the technology is that old. I was at university between 98 and 2002 at which point this type of technology was being worked on to produce a gesture controlled interface for those unable to use a conventional interface.

The research you've mentioned is in use commercially by Lexus for nearly four years (again long before the project here), like the one mentioned in the article it uses a camera and IR LED detectors to monitor the driver's eyes to ensure they're concentrating on the road taking action if it detects the driver is drowsy or not paying attention. It was also used as part of the adaptive cruise control in the LS series where the car will automatically accelerate, brake and steer on a motorway - the eye tracking allows the driver to lift their hands on the wheel by ensuring they keep looking forward. Honda had a similar automatic steering feature which rather pointlessly forced the driver to keep both hands on the wheel.



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