Came here for this, left satisfied.
Oh, Gabe. Honey. Read some neuroscience, please. This is several decades away at least for mainstream gaming applications.
Gabe is visionary, but it’s always misplaced. He shouldn’t have dropped Jeri Ellsworth and her AR gaming platform. That was here and now, and could really be the next thing after a few more years of development.
I’ve added it to our list of things that are always two decades away, no matter how much progress is made on them.
It’s not really Cyberpunk until we have lethal feedback.
Obviously actually controlling things using a brain interface is always farther away than expected (although I’d wager not as far away as some think), but what about lower targets like those EEG headsets that can measure how focussed you are – could those be used in any games?
There was that “Force Trainer” piece of hardware that came out a few years ago – it seems like a proof-of-concept for how such tech might be commercialized.
What if you were playing a sniper game, and when you zoomed in to shoot the in-game tremors made you wildly inaccurate, unless you were able to calm your breathing and focus, and the in-game tremors dissipated?
It is easy to record some neural signals (EEG, ECOG, …) with cheap, widely available hardware. You can use it as a control input into a computer, but the signal isn’t (and will never be) as clean or reliable as peripheral EMG recordings. Its just that being able to claim that your reading the brain is considered so much cooler (and worth billions more) than reading the muscles, even though it is ultimately the same.
We will never have high level brain readout, where one’s thoughts can really be decoded by a computer. Every year the tech for making limited direct neural control gets a little better, and I look forward to meaningful life improvements to people without motor control. For people with speech and/or fine motor control, the highest bandwidth neural readout will always be speech and finger movements
Yeah the tech for some kind of brain-interface-based games has been around for some time. I’ve seen exhibits in science museums where players are challenged to move an object by clearing their minds, for example. The question is whether they can use this tech to create more engaging gameplay than traditional controllers alone. It’s not like we’re anywhere near the point when a player could put on a helmet that let them control a surrogate body or drop into the Matrix.
So now both your chastity belt and your brain can be compromised in one fell swoop?
I bet the first tech that really integrates an EEG machine will be a VR headset. You’re already wearing a headset, let’s add some electrodes to it. And then any number of small games could incorporate it however they want – a meditation app where you make the world turn blue by calming your mind, or that sniper example, or whatever.
If you get the tech into something people are already using, then including it as a tiny bit of value-added in some game is a much lower burden than requiring it to form a major part of a game.
I’d suggest that Steam would be better spending their time & money coming up with a decent spec living room PC/console.
Before or after Half Life 3?
I call this The Pop Science effect. We’re never told something is more than 20 years away because pop science reporting is so universally poor. Something that we won’t see in our lifetime doesn’t make a compelling story, so they clamp it at “20 years”. The truth is, anything anyone says is 20 years away is actually 100 years away, so you’ll hear that line five times before it’s true (and won’t live long enough anyway).
The thing is, this will likely never be possible. The signals that make it through the skull are so weak and buried in noise that useful control is impossible. People keep claiming they can solve this sort of thing with AI, but a brain interface calls their bluff. The solution will have to involve electrodes in contact with the brain, and likely all over the brain.
When I was a kid, regular phone calls with video had been on this list for at least thirty years. Gene editing was in that category. DNA mapping. Hand held computers. Voice recognition.
There is a huge selection bias in pop science. If a scientist or wealthy investor says they have a plan and the breakthrough is just a few years away, then the story is picked up and amplified. If instead they were presenting inconvenient facts on why the same breakthrough is not feasible, there is no story to push. It leads to the general public always hearing a very biased, overly simplistic view of current research
There was, briefly, the idea of the “Steam PC” - unfortunately it’s pretty impossible to Google these days.
That’s a very astute analysis, and spot on. There’s also the annoying effect where they want “a story” out of everything, which requires a destination or a conclusion of some sort. They generally do this by speculating ridiculously far out to some consumer product that could conceivably exist 100 years from now based on the idea. So, for example, every story about meta-materials or nanoparticles becomes “OMG INVISIBILITY CLOAK”.
I think this is contributing hugely to the undermining of faith in science. People are being “promised” all these miracles all the time and it appears as though they never deliver. Like that running joke about how “next week scientists will tell us this doesn’t cause cancer. They always go back and forth”. That’s not true of course- science refines what we know with ever increasing nuance. But the pop reporting on it is all in absolute extremes.
The trouble with the Steam machines was that they were all a bit ‘meh’. And all that they’ve come up with to date is the Steam link & controller, which are equally as uninteresting.