I read recently about Nintendo’s patent for a blood pressure monitor. This interested me, what with the current trend for keep fit based games and peripherals from Nintendo for the Wii platform, as I myself have started to be a bit more health conscious and can see the benefits of these devices for those that don’t do a lot of exercise.
It is easy to see how this could be used for further health-related gaming where you can monitor and log your heart rate/blood pressure for a gaming session and with the aid of simple in-game advice aim to lower these over time, thereby improving your overall health.
But that seems a little niche for a new generic device, so what else could this technology be used for? I can imagine how you could use it as feedback for a game therefore adapting games to suit a persons current health status. You could, for example, change music to match the rythm of the heart or alter the music to add to the tension whilst a player is deemed relaxed. You may even be able to influence the heart rate and therefore use the game to control it as you progress allowing a designer to ensure the right feeling is invoked throughout the gameplay. On a more interactive level you could make sniper shots aim more/less erraticly based on the heart rate, or the character be faster or slower at moving, or prevent enemies from entering a room until the player is in the right ‘health’ state. Ultimately this could increase the immersion of games and open up some interesting new gameplay mechanics.
Looking to the future I wonder what other devices may appear to allow games developers to push the boundaries of what human computer interaction really is? A fingerprint scanner so you can have an in-game identity allowing you to unlock/lock doors using the device? An Eye scanner that monitors how dilated the pupils are and what you are focusing on? That has potential for graphical improvements with more dynamic depth of field effects. Maybe a personal MRI scanner so that the game can monitor what parts of the brain are active and the ability to target and stimulate other parts? Or are we heading for a full on matrix style brain plug…