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This Gaming Conference Makes You Use Your Head

The Neurotechnology Industry Organization's first NeuroGaming Conference, held earlier this week, brought emerging technologies within brain's reach of consumers.

It certainly wasn’t your normal gaming conference.

But the NeuroGaming 2013 Conference and Expo, which took place earlier this week, helped present the Neurotech Industry Organization’s (NIO’s) interests in a way that you could actually see gamers taking advantage of someday.

The group, which describes itself as “the first and only trade group that lobbies on behalf of neuroscience-focused companies, brain research institutes, and patient advocacy groups across the spectrum of neurological disease, psychiatric illnesses, and nervous system injuries,” could be on its way to helping a budding industry blaze a path to long-term commercial viability.

More details:

So what is neurogaming? In a nutshell, it’s a process that involves a series of inputs, such as heart rate and brain waves, to allow for a deeper level of gameplay. “Neurogame developers use increasingly sophisticated sensory, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral technologies to create deeply adaptive and radically compelling gaming experiences,” wrote NIO founder Zack Lynch in a piece for VentureBeat. “There is real science and the best technology ever produced behind these new capabilities to tie one’s nervous system directly into games.” Considering the success the gaming industry has had with such devices as the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect, this could make for a good next step, though some early efforts, such as a Star Wars-branded Force Trainer, leaned heavily on the novelty factor.

About the event: The conference and expo, which drew 50 companies as well as sponsorships from the International Game Developers Association and the European Games Developer Federation (among others), surfaced several fascinating ideas and products, such as those noted in NeuroGadget‘s first-day roundup, shown above. From feedback-enabled touch-screen interfaces, such as Disney’s TeslaTouch, to brain-stimulating devices, such as the Foc.us transcranial direct current stimulation headset, which helps keep users in the zone, a number of ideas were on display, along with deeper conversations about their potential in commercial gaming applications. (NeuroGadget offers other highlights from the event.)

So is there a future here? It depends on who you ask. Former GameStop executive and current venture capital investor, Chris Petrovic, suggests that products looking to reach a mass audience may want to avoid using “neurogaming” in their name, because it sounds invasive. “Regardless of how we define it, keep the consumers in mind,” he explains, according to AllThingsD. “Don’t call this ‘the next great neurogaming platform’ or ‘neurogaming device,’ because it won’t sell.” GigaOm’s Amanda Alvarez notes another point that seemed clear from the event: “For mass adoption, of course, the ‘tech’ can’t be too technical,” she says.

Whatever their focus, industry events can generate much-needed buzz and discussion around new innovations. What are you doing in your industry to help bring attention to emerging trends? Let us know in the comments.

(photo by NeuroGaming/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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