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Flying a brain-controlled drone. More zen than you think.

Flying a brain-controlled drone. More Zen than you might think.

MAKE_Conference_Badge_GDCSince last we saw NeuroSky’s mind-reading game controller (at last year’s GDC), developers have been hard at work finding fun and interesting ways to use the device. I got a chance to try a few of them out and to move things with my mind.

First up was an Unreal mod called Throw Trucks with Your Mind. (You can likely guess what the deal is here.) The NeuroSky headset tracks your levels of focus and relaxation, which depending on the power you’ve selected, will push or pull objects with the force of your concentration or levitate them with your degree of relaxation. The interesting part comes when you hook two players into the game. With both players focused on either side of a truck, the player concentrating the hardest flings the vehicle and crushes their opponent. A true battle of wills.

A convention goer uses the NeuroSky headset to concentrate on throwing trucks

A convention goer uses the NeuroSky headset to concentrate on throwing trucks

If launching virtual vehicles at people isn’t cool enough for you, Puzzlebox has developed a more physical manifestation of your mental might with their spherical helicopter Orbit. Through the power of concentration, the user can send the little drone into the air (or into a crowd of innocent bystanders as there isn’t any form of directional control).

As I learned in the short time I played with the Orbit (and throughout my years of formal education), trying really hard to concentrate is not effective at increasing your concentration levels. When I focused on listening to someone talk or reading a paragraph of text, however, the little guy jumped out of my hand. But then, the excitement of seeing it fly stole that concentration, sending it crashing to the ground. I’m sure with a little more practice I’ll be able to levitate it like a swamp-lodged X-Wing.

The Puzzlebox Orbit project is open source. They have an Instructable that shows you how to create and mind-control your own flyer. They launched a successful Kickstarter campaign the end of last year and from that has come this commercial product, which you can buy here.

Blake Maloof

I design games for work and for fun. I recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, and am now employed as a designer at Toys for Bob.


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