Playing pinball no longer requires the tiring effort of pushing two buttons on the sides of a machine.
Berlin Brain-Computer Interface is a research group that works to translate signals from the brain to electronic devices. While this has applications in many life-changing technologies, such as with mechanical limbs and paralyzed patients, BBCI's recent work has demonstrated its use in playing the game of pinball.
By recording cerebral electric activity through an electroencephalogram (EEG), which is the fancy way to say electrodes attached to the scalp, BBCI was successfully able to allow a man to use his brain to control a pinball machine. The right and left flippers were controlled through thoughts of right or left hand movements. While a pinball machine can have hundreds of moving parts, it's ultimately a simple game suited to this type of control method.
This is not yet in the realm of something you can pop on your head at the local arcade, as the preparation involved is lengthy, but the fact that it works is pretty cool. At one point, the player appears to exhibit precise flipper control, whether that was simple luck or not. For now, I think I could still manage playing the old-fashioned way. After all, a true pinball player is going to have to kick the machine a few times.
Brain control, if it ever reaches a realistic point of accuracy, would take us in a completely opposite direction from that which the videogame industry is going in now. The Nintendo Wii, Microsoft's Natal, and Sony's unnamed motion controller are creating gamers more active than they've ever been before. When it comes to brain control, we'll be sitting completely motionless, with dead looks in our eyes almost hypnotized by our games, until we eventually just keel over and die. I, for one, cannot wait.