Have you ever dreamed of being a superhero where, with one thought or blink of your eyes, objects move and evil is vanquished?
You're in luck.
Meet the EEG headset. (EEG is short for electroencephalography—electric currents read off of your scalp.) With it, you can control things with your thoughts, just so long as those "things" are games that work with the headset.
For the past week, I tried it out, with the help of my eager teenage offspring, Michelle Bort (known in the Bort family as the High Scorer Of All Games).
Thought-controlled gaming is real, but it was pricey until recently. The granddaddy of thought controllers is a headset from Emotiv that costs about $300. Ouch.
Here's the upshot. The headset is really fun to use. But the games pretty much stink.
Now for the details:
Setup is tricky. We connected MindWave to a MacBook Pro, after installing some software from an included CD. The headset connects to the computer via Bluetooth.
We fired up the tutorial and discovered we had to fiddle with the headset's position a lot before it could read our brains. One piece clamps onto to your earlobe and another must touch your forehead.
It's not really what you're think but how you think. We fired up Zombile Pop, a game where the object is to blow the zombie's head up and find a hidden pill. The pill cures humanity of the zombie plague.
Zombies roll in front of you on an assembly line. Your thoughts stop them, get their heads to inflate and then, when you blink, the head pops.
Our first few attempts didn't work. The zombies were winning. We couldn't even get them to stop.
Then we realized that our headset connection was poor. We fiddled and got a better signal.
We also had to relax and focus. It did help to think the words "Expand! Expand! Expand!" and it also helped to get a little passionate -- to really want to kill those zombies. When we did that, we popped a lot of them at a fast rate.
But it didn't read our thoughts. It also worked when we thought "Shoe! Shoe! Shoe!" and it worked when we walked into the other room for a drink of water. We were very thirsty. This is about concentration, not actual thoughts.
Zombie killing got boring so we moved on to MindPlayer, a game in which your thoughts control the action in a movie, such as shooting arrows. The more you concentrate the more accurate you shoot.
Other games had us lifting objects, throwing objects, setting them on fire. In one game, you move a character from platform to platform with the arrow keys. Your thoughts make him jump higher.
The games were dull.
The biggest problem with the NeuroSky ecosystem is that the games were pointless and not particularly challenging. With better games, this thing would be really fun.
The headset also includes a meditation journal that measures calm and focus. We watched our brainwaves which made meditation more interesting and easier to do.
Games are also available on iPhone and Android platforms. They all cost a few bucks a piece.
Buy it: For the Dad (or friend) that has everything and LOVES gadgets.