Monthly Archives: July 2014

Can VR keep us healthy?

Exercising isn’t hard. Most people actually really enjoy it when they get around to it. But people need more incentive, and exercising needs to be even easier so that as many people as possible enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

That’s why I see potential in using virtual reality as a means of increasing the incentive of exercise. Playing a game while e.g. running around on an omnidirectional treadmill  might be quite a good  exercise while still being able to have fun and play with friends.
The possibilities aren’t bounded with reality as we know it, so as an example a person could easily fly around a virtual world using a real world exercise bike as the flight machine’s source of combustion.

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Augmented reality can also provide enough incentives to move if people use more gestural or physical ways of interacting with devices. As an example imagine using the Myo as a way for children to interact with apps like Fruit Ninja, with real chops and punches. Somewhat like a “portable kinect” because kids could use it with their tablets on the go.
When we’ve started using mobile devices along with the Myo, we’ve essentially gotten away from the restriction of having to stay around a certain devices. The main computing device (smartphone) stays in the pocket while the armband measures the gestures of the user. This way gaming can extend beyond a single building, by connecting two or more smartphones together creating games that augment real games with scoring, sound, clues, and long distance communication. Imagine for instance the aforementioned kids playing laser tag in the park by just pointing at each other and making gestures. Orienteering might become a part of the game, teaching navigational skills, enhancing the experience and enrich the user with data.

Brain- Computer Interfaces

Computers have become a big part of most people’s lives. They’re evolving more and more in the direction of becoming a part of us, an extension of ourselves.

Wearables provide us information and allow communication with anybody, everywhere we go. Most often they are used to interpret touch, gesture or voice as expressions.

Another option is direct brain control. EEG can be used to translate the electrical activity, resulting from current flow in the brain, into commands for a computer (see “the EPOC“).

To control e.g. mouse cursor, the thought of moving it has to occur consciously. The process is not very fast, but the technology can definitely be valuable for paralyzed people and probably for gamers who want this extra input to enhance their experience.

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Another form of connection between the brain and a device, is the hypothesis that TMS  to the left temporal lobe of the brain can induce savant like skills in people with healthy brains. Professor Allan Snyder, director of the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney, is one of the people who have been researching this topic and demonstrated the results.

These two areas of research hint towards the possibility that “thinking caps” might be common for future wearable technology. Technology can truly enhance what humans are capable of and the opportunities seem endless. Now I’ll stop writing and switch my thinking cap to relax mode.