It has always been a part of human imagination to be able to control things solely with the mind.
When we found that electroencephalography (EEG) technology has become more accessible through products like the Muse headband, we were excited to be able to try it out, and try to make fiction reality.
At this hackathon, we aimed to develop a unique and engaging hack that would highlight the strengths of the Muse headband and add to its suite of stress relief and meditation tools.
What it does
Think Tank is a two-player co-op game where players use Muse headbands to control a tank in a map, where they attempt to navigate through mazes and destroy enemy tanks solely through their mind, without physically moving any controls.
This game literally makes people focus very intensely to be able to control the tank. By creating a game, we are able to drive attention from players away from outside worries, which is often the number one source of stress. Players also practice having more control over their thoughts through the strategic use of being focused and unfocused within the game.
As Think Tank is a multiplayer game, the experience of practicing concentration and meditating is a lot more enjoyable and allows people to share it with others.
How we built it
Think Tank was built in Unity3D, programmed in C#, and implemented the Muse headband.
A series of tools were used to go from brain waves from the Muse to game inputs within the Unity game. First, the Muse headbands were connected via bluetooth to the computer. Next, Muse-IO (command line tool) gathered data from the bluetooth device and outputted it to a TCP port. This data would be gathered by Muse Lab, and only a few important values, including EEG, Concentration, and Jaw Clench, were passed on to a UDP port via Open Sound Control (OSC). To have two Muse active at the same time, two instances of Muse-IO and Muse Lab needed to be run at the same time. Finally, the OSC data would be received by an OSC script in Unity on the UDP port and processed for usage in game. Credits go to Thomas Fredericks for the OSC Unity scripts.
Assets used in the Unity project came only from the “Tanks! Tutorial” (by Unity) sample project.
Challenges we ran into
We encountered several problems throughout the process of creating this hack.
The main challenge that we ran into was trying to figure out how to interpret the data that was outputted by the Muse. There seemed to be no pattern to the brain wave data from the sensor.
Another challenge that was encountered was the process of simultaneously pairing 2 Muse to a single computer at the same time. When one of them connected, it would cause the other to disconnect.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we were able to overcome all of the challenges that we encountered throughout the development of this hack, and since we had not used Muse before, that we were able to learn how to use and develop for this new technology in a relatively short amount of time.
We are also proud that we were able to get a working product in end that is both satisfying and enjoyable.
What we learned
Having never used Muse before, we learned a lot about how to connect and use the headbands, and how to interpret the outputted data and apply it to a fun game.
What's next for Think Tank
In the future, we would like to continue developing the game and improving the control system! By further analyzing the data that comes from the sensor we may be able to find other ways players may be able to send messages aside from concentration and jaw clenching. We would also like to try implementing other immersive game tech, like virtual or augmented reality, or motion sensing to create a whole new experience.
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