Gaming soon to draw on quantified self technology?

By December 26, 2014

A new type of mouse that collects your basic biometric data when you play a video game may soon be on the market. Its purpose is to optimise gamers’ performance and experience.

"Quantified Self" technology is no longer confined to the domain of healthcare and monitoring sports performance. Mionix, a Swedish company which specialises in gaming peripherals and is well-known for its high-quality ergonomic computer mouse, has now developed a new type of mouse which may lead to the rise of a new field – Quantified Gaming. "We want to offer online gamers the same functionality as what’s available to sportspeople who collect and analyse their bio-data," explains Mionix founder Carl Silbersky.

The Quantified Self movement continues to grow, driven by connected objects in general, the leading product category being wrist-worn fitness trackers. The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas bears witness to the persistent customer enthusiasm for companies offering this type of product. In addition, the Consumer Electronics Association listed ‘The Rise of the Machines’ (including the Internet of Things) and Digital Health among the ‘Five Tech Trends to Watch’ in both 2014 and 2015.

New approaches to online gaming

The world of video and online games playing continues to evolve, bringing the virtual world ever closer to reality. Kinect, and more recently Oculus Rift, have profoundly changed the gaming experience – as evidenced by the general enthusiasm for the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign in 2012, which raised $2 million against a target of just $250,000. Now with its new NAOS QG mouse, Mionix could be about to bring another new feature to gaming.

The mouse is equipped with an LED photo sensor which occupies the curve where your index finger rests and monitors minute changes in blood flow, thus basically measuring your heart rate. It also contains two skin-response sensors, which can monitor stress and excitement based on skin moisture. The information is gathered in real time during the game and can be viewed directly on screen via the Quantified Gaming software programme, which is supplied as an API. The Mionix mouse is compatible with all types of video games. The purpose of collecting the biometric data is to inform the gamer when his/her stress levels are shooting up, which might mean losing the game. This could well be a good time to take a break. The company slogan is ‘Know more, game better’. In addition the data is also shared with any other players in the game, adding an extra dimension to the competitive approach. All in all, Carl Silbersky is hoping the idea of a Quantified Gaming platform will catch on widely.

How great is the potential for Quantified Gaming?

Mionix is currently looking to raise funds for the NAOS QG mouse on Kickstarter. Silbersky explains that the company was prompted to embark on its Quantified Gaming venture as there had been a distinct lack of innovation in the gaming world – with the exception of Oculus Rift, he hastens to add – over the last few years. In fact Nintendo also announced that it was developing a hardware accessory, the Nintendo Vitality Sensor, which was designed to record basic biometrics, as long ago as 2010, but in 2013 the firm announced that it would not after all be running with the idea as a commercial product.

One might well ask just how useful it is to know one’s heart rate and stress levels while playing a video game. The NAOS QG mouse still needs to prove that this information can be useful in practical terms, bringing a real plus to the gaming experience. If not, then it will go the way of wearable fitness trackers which, according to a report published in January this year by US strategy consulting firm Endeavour Partners, are never used by their owners six months after purchase. However, given that the Quantified Self movement is still thriving, we should perhaps keep an eye on the Quantified trend in the world of video games.






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