Projects 2010 > Biofeedback in Gaming > Journal
I am pleased to say that we have integrated the heart rate monitor with the C++ game engine. We ordered the HxM chest strap based heart monitor that connects to the computer via bluetooth. I must admit, while the hardware itself seems excellent, the fact it connects to your chest and not, say, your arm like in EA active 2, is a little annoying. However at this stage it is still important to understand that the hardware is simply a means to an end, a way of getting data and delivering a proof-of-concept.
It connects via a port, so it was a case of creating a virtual port within the engine, and then looking at the HxM SDK info to figure out how to read the data packets. The upshot of this is that we now have a ball onscreen that grows and shrinks dependant on your heart rate.
The next step is for me to play with the current build as well as the data logging program that the HxM came with to do some inital tests. Once I have an idea for how the body behaves and any latency issues I can fast track some design work.
So the next big challenges are some form of motion detection and some game designs. As I may have mentioned before, we strongly feel that the ideal use of this technology would be in conjunction with Kinect, such as what EA have done with EA Active 2. This would create a completely controller free experience that allowed the data sourced from one input (the heart rate monitor) to be combined with technology that can recognise specific gestures, or in other words, the game knows what activity is driving your heart rate up. At the very least this could be used to make a fitness game that responds in real-time to you. Combine this further with various in-game pickups/powerups and a whole range of gameplay design options are blown open. Our goal is to try an see if heart rate = superpowers. You can see how this would instantly resonate with lots of videogame IP. Take Sonic for example: the charcaters one defining feature is running and speed. Imagine if the faster you ran and the more your heart rate went up from rest, the closer you would get to transforming into Supersonic. Or maybe a Jekyll and Hide/Incredible Hulk thing based on Wii-esque shadow boxing……you get the idea……..
However there is one problem. There is no gesture detection technology for the PC (our demo platform) that is anywhere near as advanced as Kinect and although we are registered Xbox developers and theoretically (I say theoretically because the cost of acquiring one would be significant and that's not even including the tech development involved) could get our hands on a Kinect dev kit, there are no open source heart rate monitors that integrate with Xbox! Fundamentally we are still very much in a proof of concept stage and thus have to cut some corners/make some work arounds. One option is to use a webcam as a more primitive 'eye toy' style input. Obviously there is no advanced IR array & skeletal tracking but it will detect where you are which opens up some options. Another is to hack a wii-mote which we are looking into. Watch this space.