The July 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

The First Mind-Controlled VR Game Will Hit Arcades in 2018

Neurable’s brain-scanning headband brings hands-free control to virtual reality entertainment

4 min read
Photo of person wearing VR headset.
Jacked In: Neurable’s new virtual reality headband uses a set of electrodes to measure the user’s EEG (electroencephalography) signals.
Photo: Neurable
Purple

“Wake up, this is not a test,” intones a voice as the virtual reality game Awakening begins. Your game character is a child trapped in a nefarious government lab, and as you scan the room you see a variety of objects lying on the floor, each flashing with light. You focus your mental attention on a block, and it rises up and rotates in the air before you. Then you focus on a mirror on the wall, and the block hurtles toward it and smashes the glass, revealing a scrawled sequence of numbers beneath. You notice a keypad by the door with numbers that are also subtly flashing. Using only your Jedi powers, you focus on certain digits in the correct sequence to open the door.

The technology that makes this game possible is a brain-scanning headband that attaches to a VR headset. That headband, paired with software that interprets the neural signals, enables wearers to play games without using any sort of hand controller. The creators of this brain-computer interface system, at the Boston-based startup Neurable, believe this intuitive controller will be the next big thing in VR. “We’ve essentially created a brain mouse,” says Ramses Alcaide, Neurable’s cofounder and CEO.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Quantum Computing for Dummies

New guide helps beginners run quantum algorithms on IBM's quantum computers over the cloud

3 min read
An image of the inside of an IBM quantum computer.
IBM

Quantum computers may one day rapidly find solutions to problems no regular computer might ever hope to solve, but there are vanishingly few quantum programmers when compared with the number of conventional programmers in the world. Now a new beginner's guide aims to walk would-be quantum programmers through the implementation of quantum algorithms over the cloud on IBM's publicly available quantum computers.

Whereas classical computers switch transistors either on or off to symbolize data as ones or zeroes, quantum computers use quantum bits, or "qubits," which because of the peculiar nature of quantum physics can exist in a state called superposition where they are both 1 and 0 at the same time. This essentially lets each qubit perform two calculations at once. The more qubits are quantum-mechanically linked, or entangled (see our explainer), within a quantum computer, the greater its computational power can grow, in an exponential fashion.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This Wearable Neck Patch Can Diagnose Concussions

Self-powered sensors convert neck strain into electrical pulses to detect head trauma in athletes

4 min read
image of back of man's head and shoulders with a patch taped to his lower neck; right image is a time lapse image of a man's head extending far forward and back, simulating a case of whiplash

The prototype patch in this research is shown in (a) on the left; on the right (b) is the kind of head rotation that can yield an electrical response from the patch.

Juan Pastrana

Nelson Sepúlveda was sitting in the stands at Spartan Stadium, watching his hometown Michigan State players bash heads with their cross-state football rivals from the University of Michigan, when he had a scientific epiphany.

Perhaps the nanotechnologies he had been working on for years—paper-thin devices known as ferroelectret nanogenerators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy—could help save these athletes from the ravages of traumatic brain injury.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Improved Dynamic Range for Pulse Detection

Achieving an unprecedented combination of dynamic range and sampling rate for pulse data acquisition

1 min read

Join Teledyne SP Devices for an introduction to our Pulse Detection Range eXtension (PDRX) technology. It achieves a dynamic range equivalent to 16-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) while exceeding the sampling rate supported by commercially available devices. It is ideal for pulse capture in applications such as mass spectrometry. Register now for this free webinar!

Keep Reading ↓Show less