World of Warcraft may be slowly losing players, but it's gaining new ways to play the game -- specifically, thanks to G.Tec Medical Engineering in Austria, you will soon be able to play WoW with your mind:
Video explains in detail how the process works, but if you're impatient, the Warcraft action starts at around 1:50. According to G.Tec's Armin Schnürer, this system, called intendiX®SOCI (for Screen Overlay Control Interface), will be commercially available later this year. And while this video demo only shows user movement in Warcraft (forward/backward/left/right), Armin tells me it's feasible to add other commands. From a smartass perspective, this could be a way for lazy gamers to play WoW without even having to move. From an utterly serious angle, however, this could be a great way for the disabled to play with their friends and loved ones, even when they have no physical ability to do so.
G.Tec is the same company that created a similar innovation last year with Second Life, and when I blogged about it then, people wondered if this could actually be a commercially viable product. Isn't it a time consuming pain to install a web of electrode's on someone's head any time they want to play WoW?
"Of course we need the electrode cap to measure your brain-waves," Armin answers, "but for the future we can think of using our dry electrodes (you don’t need gel anymore) or mounting the electrodes in a baseball cap." In any case, he adds, "At the moment the mounting time of the cap (including inserting of the gel) is about 2 minutes –- the user can boot the computer meanwhile."
So far, the G.Tec team has tested this technology with 40 people at the CeBIT conference, and before that, with students at a school in Upper Austria. It would be great to see it introduced to handicapped gamers on a much wider basis.
As for the Second Life prototype, which was set to be available by now, "We did not develop it further," Armin tells me. From what I glean in the video, the company will need funding to make the SL or WoW version a commercial product. Kickstarter, anyone?