Projects 2010 > Biofeedback in Gaming > Journal
Whats new? Well I’ve recently spent some time looking into some of the technology we may need to leverage for our demo. This includes a variety of different heart rate technologies and also some gesture recognition stuff too.
When I started looking into this I was focussing mainly on pulse oximeter based technology. This is a small device, with a medical heritage, that clips onto someone’s fingertip in order to take a pulse reading. It is these devices that the Nintendo vitality sensor appears to be based on. The devices I was finding however didn’t seem to be too developer friendly. Many were designed to record data to be downloaded later, rather than in real-time. The one real-time device I did find was wired and therefore not particularly conducive for use in active gaming. In fact, the general idea that one fingertip would be effectively disabled by the device was a little limiting when considering gaming in general anyway.
I then started looking at watch based heart rate monitors only to find that many of these were unsuitable too. However this did lead me towards chest strap based monitors, with which many of the watches integrated with. Too cut a long story short I found a cheststrap based monitor (hands free: hello Wiimote) called the HxM by a company called Zephyr Technologies. It syncs with a PC or mobile device via Bluetooth and has been specifically designed for 3rd party developer use. After pinging a few emails back and forth with one of the guys from Zephyr, I decided to order one of the monitors that should be flying its way over the Atlantic pretty soon. The next key challenge is therefore to get the HxM integrated with the game engine. They have supplied some documentation and tools, so watch this space……
On a slightly different note, we have also found some open source C++ libraries that allow a Wiimote to be linked up to a PC. If we can get this working it would be great as it provides a means of discriminating between active exercises performed in the game. This would be great as it would allow for a full range of activities to be incorporated and limit the ability to cheat (i.e. heart rate could be pumped up by sprinting violently rather than performing the instructed exercise).
So all in all, the hardware is just a means to an end at this stage to try and prove that a fun heart-rate controlled game can be made. We’re looking forward to trying to get something up and running.