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Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Latest games tap into ‘the Force’

ALL IN THE MIND Toy manufacturers are using sensors reading electrical activity in a player’s brain to control games that require a degree of ‘mind-eye coordination’


Mattel employee Tim Sheridan, wearing a headset containing sensors for the forehead and earlobes to measure brainwave activity, uses his mind to raise a small purple foam ball as he demonstrates the “Mind Flex” game at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday. When the player focuses his or her concentration, the foam ball rises on a stream of air, while relaxing the mind allows the ball to descend. The game will be available in the fall at a projected retail price of US$79.99.


An elderly Chinese woman wearing a headset concentrates intensely on a small foam ball and it begins to rise slowly into the air.

It’s not magic, but rather the latest game from toy maker Mattel, which allows players to move a ball around an obstacle course by using just their powers of concentration.

Focusing on the ball causes a fan in the base of the game — called “Mind Flex” — to start up and lift the ball on a gentle stream of air. Break your concentration and the ball descends. Once a player has the ball in the air they need to try to weave it through hoops, towers and other obstacles.

“It’s a mind-eye coordination game,” Mattel’s Tim Sheridan said. “As you relax you’ll find that the ball drops.”

Mind Flex uses EEG ­technology to measure brain wave activity through a headset equipped with sensors for the forehead and earlobes.

The game, which will be available in September for US$79.99, is being displayed by Mattel at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

But Mattel is not the only toy maker tapping into the power of the mind. In a report this week, USA Today newspaper said game maker Uncle Milton planned to release a similar game this year. Called “Force Trainer” it is named after “the Force” powers of Yoda and Luke Skywalker in the popular Star Wars films.

The game calls for players to lift a ball inside a transparent tube using their powers of concentration.

“It’s been a fantasy everyone has had, using the Force,” the daily quoted Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, as saying.

“Force Trainer” also uses electroencephalography, or EEG, to measure electrical activity in the brain recorded on a headset containing sensors.

A company called NeuroSky adapted the EEG technology for both games, USA Today reported.

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