The following is an editorial blog hosted from www.medium.com and written by Sarah Hill.

 
StoryUP releases 1st brain-computer interface title for GearVR

“Are those really my brainwaves?” People frequently ask me that question when we demo our Positivity app which works with a brain-computer interface, a mobile phone, and a VR headset. The new title set to release publicly on GearVR soon is powered by an input from your brain’s asymmetrical gamma activity. Only when I gently startle the user and they see the waves jump do they understand that their mind is indeed controlling the immersive story.

Even with diagnostic EEG at a hospital, rarely do you get the opportunity to watch your brainwaves react in real-time. In a VR headset, it’s mesmerizing. As the user watches their pattern move across the screen wearing a Muse meditation headband, it’s as if they’re seeing their neurological reflection for the first time. They aren’t just watching the experience. In a way, they’re feeling it.

A Woman prepares to demo “Positivity” at the Employer Healthcare Congress in LA wearing a Muse Meditation Headband

A Woman prepares to demo “Positivity” at the Employer Healthcare Congress in LA wearing a Muse Meditation Headband

BCI or brain-computer interfaces are not new. A UCLA Professor coined the term in a research paper in the 1970’s. Neuro-gaming’s first conference was held in San Francisco in 2013. However just like with VR headsets, the new lower form factor, ease of use, and portability of these devices that use EEG are enabling content creators like StoryUP to harness brain power to drive immersive experiences.

When the left frontal area of the brain is more active than the right, this is associated with feelings of positivity and optimism. It’s essentially a happiness trainer.— Dr. Jeff Tarrant, Psychologist, Neuromeditation Institute & StoryUP Co-Founder
Image from StoryUP’s Positivity App

Image from StoryUP’s Positivity App

In “Positivity”, the more the asymmetrical gamma activity reaches a certain level, the higher you float up the side of a beautiful waterfall. Our platform for positivity and other feelings like empathy and motivation is used in areas of situational, occupational, and workplace stress.

StoryUP started in 2014 as a way to help aging Veterans see their memorials. The Missouri company now has a library of experiences categorized by feelings. StoryUP’s “kits” are used in enterprise from sales teams to sailors aboard the USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean. The stories and affirmations span five continents. The positivity BCI project is a collaboration with the Neuromeditation Institute in Corvallis, OR, Everywoah in Spain, Immersion.reallife, and StoryUP in Columbia, MO. It’s the first mobile VR experience powered by a Muse, a meditation headband, and the first BCI title for GearVR. In three pilot studies, some of our experiences quieted brain regions associated with the stress response in as little as four minutes.

Muse Brain Sensing Headband

Muse Brain Sensing Headband

It used to be a brain-computer interface required messy gels, lots of sensors over your scalp, and a technician to set it up. Now an EEG strip attached to a headband is enabling users to navigate media with their minds. (Photo credit: Muse ) We’re NOT using these tools for diagnostics or to cure any medical condition. We’re using BCI as a storytelling input. Much as a computer mouse interacts with media, so too does what Facebook calls the “brain mouse”.

Facebook announced at F8 it’s built a brain mouse that can type 60 words a minute with someone’s thoughts. Companies are already working on neuro-computing operating systems that will allow you to navigate hands free right or left, click on media, or even scroll with your brainwaves. Way.

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Soon, more VR headsets will have brainwave sensors baked into the face masks for the user to control the experience with their thoughts. Mind Maze(photo credit) is already advertising its headsets with built in sensors. Looxi Labs is already building a neural-analytics platform. Vive earlier this year announced a partnership with Neurable and released the first VR game to work with a BCI. The Mill released Strata this summer which works with an Oculus Rift and the user’s biometrics including heart rate.

Although this setup requires a gaming PC and for now a tethered connection, more and more neuro-media experiences like “Positivity” will be coming to mobile and standalone VR headsets. We’re excited to test drive all the different hardware with our brain-powered stories.

Human Media

At the end of “Positivity” if you make it back to the bottom of the waterfall, you’ll have the opportunity to watch a story about a group of aging Veterans who are no longer able to physically travel. They’re using VR to experience their memorials as their health won’t allow them to travel on in-person Honor Flights to Washington, DC.

As our interactions on social media become more negative, this new VR title is an attempt to become more self-aware of the power of positivity. Our thoughts have always had the ability to control environments ……not only in the virtual but the real world as well. If you have a VR headset, please consider spreading your own positivity by sharing your VR headset with an aging Veteran and donating to your local Honor Flight hub. Currently, there are +100 aging Veterans on a waiting list to virtually visit their memorials.