NeuroSky Chief Technology Officer KooHyoung Lee, left, worker Cynthia Lee and software engineer Horance Ko model some of NeuroSky's cool headsets to the press in San Jose, Calif.  (Source: AP)

In a very over-the-top, but nonetheless entertaining demonstration, a NeuroSky worker, dressed as Star Wars character Darth Vader, controls a lightsaber, turning it on using NeuroSky's mind control technology.  (Source: AP)
Move over Wii -- NeuroSky continues the controller wave of the future as the second company to solidify plans for a 2008 brain controller launch

OCZ's mind mouse seemed revolutionary at CES '08, but now by the looks of things it better hurry up and release its product or be left behind in 2008.  Following fast on the heels of the announcement from Emotiv that it will bring the brain-input "The Epoq" to consumers late this year, rival firm NeuroSky Inc. announced that its similar headset, "MindSet" was released to wholesalers, and will soon be in consumers hands.

Both Emotiv and NeuroSky have been crafting their products for some time now, but it looks like NeuroSky may beat Emotiv to the market.  NeuroSky, based out of San Jose, Calif., will sell the headset for approximately $50 per unit to wholesalers.  The device communicates wirelessly with game consoles, cell phones, and PCs.  A more complex prototype of the unit, a model for future editions dubbed "Project Millenia" popped up at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week.  Aside from brain control, it also featured surround sound headphones to complete the experience, a nice extra perk for gamers.

NeuroSky already has existing contracts with Sega Toys Co. in Tokyo and Musinaut in Paris for the device.  Musinaut plans to put the device to work in an interactive music technology that controls a user's music based on their thoughts and moods. 

NeuroSky's device also uses EEG technology, like Emotiv's unit, but the initial version is slightly simpler in implementation with fewer options in gaming.  Gamers will be able to control such actions as “lift,” “move,” and “burn" with the device.  A demo video from a Discovery Channel special can be seen here.

Stanley Yang, CEO of NeuroSky compared the device's use to Tiger Wood's focus on the golf course, stating, "We want to support the fourth-dimension in the gaming experience—incorporating the mental states of the player. When Tiger Woods hits a golf ball, there are certain mental preparations that he undergoes. We can build these aspects into the virtual game, as well!"

The device utilizes NeuroSky ThinkGear-EM technology.  Last year NeuroSky released its "MindKit SDK", a development environment where programmers can design controls based on the device to provide unique and flexible applications.  NeuroSky plans on releasing an updated SDK, "MindKit-EM", based on the ThinkGear-EM technology in March 2008.

Mr. Yang feels his company's product is easy to develop for and has a strong consumer appeal.  He states, "We looked at market research data about what would attract the general gaming population to not only use, but to purchase a brainwave-controlled headset.  Of course, pricing is always important, but other challenges faced by NeuroSky were that its products had to be simple to wear, aesthetically pleasing and have a ‘near zero´ learning curve. We kept it simple to encourage greater rates of adoption. Most people have never heard of this stuff, let alone used it. Unlike our competitors, we focused on simplifying the technology to its most basic element—a single sensor."

NeuroSky even believes that the device may be able to help cure ADHD in children -- no drugs necessary.  According to NeuroSky, MindSet can allow children to play games to teach their brains to be calm.  Once children afflicted with ADHD perfect the art of mind control, they should be able to apply this to the rest of their daily activities, including school and athletics, according to NeuroSky.

Exactly how much fun the brain-controllers are remains to be seen, but with a flexible SDK and an on market product, NeuroSky's announcement is certainly exciting news for gamers and fans of high technology.  Expect Emotiv and OCZ to not be far behind, truly making 2008 the year of electronics mind control.  

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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