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UW researchers blaze trail on mind-meld video game technology

A new technology could change the way people with neural injuries communicate. (Pexels)

Graduate students at the University of Washington are making progress on groundbreaking technology that allows multiple people to play a video game together using nothing but their minds.

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The video game has a trio of players each in separate rooms, cooperating together to move Tetris blocks.

“Two of them can see — they’re the eyes of the game,” UW researcher Preston Jiang told The Candy, Mike and Todd Show. “They can see everything that’s going on, while the third person in another room cannot see the game, he’s actually the player. So he will be relying on getting the decisions from the other two people.”

Those decisions are transmitted through what’s called transcranial magnetic stimulation — essentially, noninvasive stimulation of the brain shared from the two players who are the “eyes,” to the third player controlling the actual movements.

And while the technology right now is rudimentary and expensive, eventually, this could be revolutionary in its practical application.

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“At the University of Washington, we actually deal with a lot of patients who have either neural injuries on their brain stem or even their spinal cord,” Jiang described. “These kinds of extractions using their brainwaves can be the only way they can communicate.”

What’s a simple game of Tetris right now could end up being the best possible method of communication for those who are most in need. And while there are still hurdles related to cost, hardware, and ease of transport, it remains a promising first step toward the stuff of science-fiction.

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