Friday, January 9, 2009

Use the Force, children!

Why, oh why, couldn't they have invented these when I was a child?


Toy trains 'Star Wars' fans to use The Force

By Mike

Could The Force be with you? A toy due in stores this fall will let you
test and hone your Jedi-like abilities.
The Force Trainer (expected to be
priced at $90 to $100) comes with a headset that uses brain waves to allow
players to manipulate a sphere within a clear 10-inch-tall training tower,
analogous to Yoda and Luke Skywalker's abilities in the Star Wars films.
you're not tapping into some "all-powerful force controlling everything," as Han
Solo said in the movies. But you are reaching out with mind power via one of the
first mass-market brain-to-computer products. "It's been a fantasy everyone has
had, using The Force," says Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing.
Mind-control games may be the coming thing: Mattel plans to demonstrate a
Mind Flex game (also due this fall), which uses brain-wave activity to move a
ball through a tabletop obstacle course, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas on Thursday.
In the Force Trainer, a wireless headset reads your brain
activity, in a simplified version of EEG medical tests, and the circuitry
translates it to physical action. If you focus well enough, the training sphere,
which looks like a ping-pong ball, will rise in the tower.
A state of deep
concentration is needed to achieve a Force-full effect. "When you concentrate,
it activates the training remote," says Frank Adler of toymaker Uncle Milton
Industries, which is creating the Trainer. "There is a flow of air that will
move the (ball). You can actually feel like you are in a zone."
Star Wars
sound effects and audio clips emitted from the base unit "cue you in to progress
to the next level (from Padawan to Jedi) or when to move the sphere up or down
to keep challenging yourself," Adler says.
"Until today, EEG technology has
been designed for rigorous medical and clinical applications with little regard
to price (and) ease of use," says Greg Hyver of NeuroSky, which developed the
brain-wave technology for both games. "We are putting this exciting technology
into everyone's living room."

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