Stanford project turns Xbox 360 controller into human sensor

While some people and companies believe that virtual reality is the next big trend in PC and console gaming, a team at Stanford University is working on a different approach on controlling games by putting in new sensors in gamepads.

In a press release this week, Stanford said that the group of grad students, lead by professor of electrical engineering Gregory Kovacs, has modified an Xbox 360 controller from Microsoft in a collaborative project with Texas Instruments. The back panel of the controller was removed and replaced by a sensor module; it states:

Small metal pads on the controller's surface measure the user's heart rate, blood flow, and both the rate of breath and how deeply the user is breathing. Another light-operated sensor gives a second heart rate measurement, and accelerometers measure how frantically the person is shaking the controller.

The team also created a custom racing game that ties into the modified controller which allows them to collect data. This project could be expanded in the future to create games that sense if a player is bored or excited based on sensing their heart beat and other functions. If a player appears to be bored, the game can automatically become more challenging to keep the person interested.

It could also be used to monitor how kids play games at home. Parents could have special settings in place that allow the controller to sense if their children are getting too into a particular game and either slow the gameplay down or shut it off completely in order to give kids a break; there's no word on if this project will evolve into a commercial product.

Source: Stanford University

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