Earl Dodd, a product specialist, said that Harvard University has a similar rig running through an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer that allows them to study tumor growth. "Information and data is moved in real time to Deep Computing Visualization and can be used to view a tumor as it's growing--or hopefully not growing—because some other agents have been injected into the tumor," Dodd said. "And they can also share that with their colleagues at the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] or...with Boston's Mass General, the hospital, so they can actually collaborate."
Making Faces for Your Virtual Self
Emotiv Systems, a partner of IBM, is a company developing pioneering technology to transform human thought into action in a metaverse, like Second Life. Their method involves translating brain waves, measured by electroencephalography (EEG), into data transmissible to a gaming application. (Click here to watch a related video.)
To demonstrate the Expressiv application, researcher Marco Della Torre wore an EEG helmet with electrodes placed in various spots on his head. Using only data from the EEG, an on-screen avatar mimicked his facial contortions, such as smiling, clenching his teeth or blinking.
"We're showing how it can enrich an experience in a virtual world—how it brings an avatar to life and communicates your feelings so directly," Della Torre said. In the "affectiv" mode, the program measured his excitement level, which could be used to determine the demeanor of your avatar. Eventually, a game may be reactive enough to sense a user's complacency and ratchet up the difficulty level. Finally, in a telekinetic display similar to "The Force" (or "The Schwartz," if you prefer Mel Brooks to George Lucas), Della Torre demoed the Cognitiv suite by pushing a cube on the screen back merely by intently focusing his mind on doing so.
The applications of this sort of technology, as it continues to develop, could impact areas as disparate as the automotive industry and efforts to combat mental disorders, such as autism. For now, Emotiv is targeting gaming, with an expected rollout of their wares in late-'08.
The Team Finally Triangulates the Vest
TN Games has been selling its 3rdSpace Gaming Vest since November. The company had it and two new prototypes that gaming enthusiasts and courageous reporters could try out. One of the prototypes was a helmet and a new vest to use for car racing games.
TN's products bring part of the action on the screen to the gamer's body. If your character in "Unreal" is shot in the back or in the back of the head, plastic, pneumatic cells in the gear will get a burst of air and jab the wearer in the corresponding area. The vest has four cells on the front and another four on the back, whereas the helmet has four pressure points around the head. A USB cord goes into the gaming console to sync the equipment to the game and an air compressor delivers the pokes and prods. (Click here to watch a related video.)
The technology, invented by vascular surgeon Mark Ombrellaro, was additionally intended to allow him to give examinations remotely to patients in rural Texas via the Internet. "While that vest was being approved by the FDA, he was like, 'Well, what can we do with the technology?'" recounts his brother John, who handles TN's sales and marketing. "Let's do gaming." Although the Gaming Vest has only eight pneumatic cells, the vest for telehealth has 64 cells trained on the abdominal area alone.
After donning TN's products and, in various games, getting trapped in corners and driving into walls, CES Day Two came to a close. The SciAm reporting team stumbled out of the expo mildly concussed and with the wind knocked out of them.