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How Biometrics Could Change Gaming in 2014


Dr. Steven F. LeBoeuf
 
 
As we begin 2014, pundits everywhere are outlining their prophecies for the year ahead. Why not join in on the fun? Lately I’ve been thinking about video games and how tech advancementsour company's sensor technology and other wearable technologiescan catapult people who play virtual reality games into a new dimension. We’ve come an awfully long way since the Atari, but the gamer community is always searching for the next new experience. I believe biometrics could be the future of more immersive gaming.
 
Controlling the game experience using biometrics
We’ve seen how the body can be used as a controller in today’s games, but we’re not far from a time when we’ll be able to use our real-time biometrics, such as heart rate and respiration rate, to help add a new element to the experience. For players this could include changing the difficulty of challenges based on heart rate—for example, the player's sharp-shooting accuracy may improve based on a lower heart rate. Similarly, a swimming or deep-diving competition may be more compelling if gamers must master their ability to hold their breath in real-life while under virtual water. 
 
Heightening interactivity through biometrics 
Through the use of biometrics, companies will be able to create smarter games that are capable of learning about the player and his or her biometric profile. How might your body react when you are under attack during a war-themed game? If you’re fitter in the real world, your character may be a more effective fighter in the virtual world. By tracking players’ biometric data, games can be personalized to change dynamically in relation to participants’ fitness levels, which will help the game continually evolve and engage.
 
By taking a player on a biometric journey of emotional states via heart rate variability (HRV) monitoring, a game may teach stress management without making the gamer consciously aware of it. For example, players could tap the mind-body connection to transform themselves from Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk simply by changing their emotional state.
 
Understanding market implications
Technology that provides accurate, meaningful data can also spur players to get off the couch and engage in a fitness game or propel themselves to the next level of engagement—at the gym. The market for this is substantial as fitness game titles continue to grow exponentially along with the consumer appetite for wearable fitness monitors. According to new research from the Consumer Electronics Association, consumer interest in purchasing wearable fitness devices in 2014 has quadrupled over the previous year.
 
Monitoring and tracking real-time body metrics with integrated sensor technology will create an enhanced experience for a wide variety of gaming titles. Audio earbuds, armbands, and wrist devices that track biometricsare natural peripherals.
 
Advances in technology continue to change the way we live, work and play. Incorporating biometrics into video games could help propel the gaming industry into another realm, where not only players and developers win, but so does the public at large, as we may all be gamed into better fitness and health.

Would you be interested in a game if it adapted to your fitness level or daily life stressors? What do you think about using biometrics to enhance a player’s experience? We are eager for your comments below. 

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