March 12, 2013

Atari Mindlink: I'll bet you didn't know how long Brain Computer Interfaces have been around

Way back in 1984 when Megadeth was releasing their first album and the first ford temp was been introduced and Atari dominated the video game industry they actually had a prototype that never got released for a Brain Computer Interface controller called the Atari Mindlink.

It was slated to be released sometime in 1984 for the 2600 vcs system, Atari 7800 and Atari home computers. which obviously never happened.

This type of BCI controller was a little different but still used biofeedback. For this system one had to move the muscles in one's head to control the game. These movements would be read by the headband which detect and read signals at the myo neuronal level which are in the muscles in ones head and interpret them into commands for the infrared sensors then transferred as movement in the game.

At the time there were 2 games to be released for the mindlink controller. Bionic Breakthrough and Mind Maze. Bionic Breakthrough was basically Breakout controlled with the Mindlink, while Mind Maze was an attempt to use ESP through the Mindlink to predict what is printed on cards, which admittedly didn't work.

A couple reason's why it never got released point to the video game industry which wasn't what it is now and was dying. Adding to Atari's woes was that testing showed that users reported having frequent headaches and moved their eyebrows around to play the game. There were problems with the metal sensors and headband design issues.

Is too bad Atari didn't keep going as they were far ahead of their time. Apparently there was an ad that ran for it on TV and the day after  Rafer Johnson, the Olympic Champion and the then president of Special Olympics proposed that Atari develop sports software for the next Special Olympics.
The Rose Kennedy Foundation was going to foot the total development cost. This would have opened a door to development of computer control for the handicapped.

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