When it comes to interfacing with virtual reality (VR) worlds currently you really only have the option of physical controllers or very basic hand tracking unless you have the cash to buy expensive gloves. The future could very well be in brain-computer interface’s (BCI) like the one Valve, Tobii, and OpenBCI are currently collaborating on, Galea, with a beta programme slated to launch early next year.
Brooklyn-based neurotechnology company OpenBCI its Galea hardware and software platform last year, a combination of mixed reality (MR) headset with state-of-the-art biosensing and brain-computer interfacing (BCI) tech. The device features a wealth of sensors including electroencephalogram (EEG), electrooculography (EOG) electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA), and photoplethysmography (PPG) to detect human emotions.
The project jumped into the spotlight last month thanks to New Zealand’s 1 NEWS interview with Valve’s Gabe Newell confirming the company had been working with OpenBCI. “If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake,” Newell said.
The latest news on the project sees Tobii as another partner, so alongside all the kit above built into a headset with elements from the Valve Index, it’ll also include eye-tracking.
“We are excited to work with Valve and OpenBCI to explore the future of immersive gaming by combining the power of Tobii eye tracking and OpenBCI’s advanced brain computer interface technology,” said Anand Srivatsa, Division CEO of Tobii Tech in a statement.
BCI could well be built into all future headsets to see when people are happy, sad, surprised or bored because as Newell himself puts: “simply because there’s too much useful data.”
If you’re a developer interested in how neurotechnology can transform VR experiences then head over to OpenBCI’s Galea beta project website to register. Limited quantities of developer units will be shipped to beta program participants in early 2022.