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Modded Nintendo Lets You Play Mario With Your Eyes 112

hasanabbas1987 writes "A group of engineers going by Waterloo Labs in Austin, Texas created a way of controlling an original NES by simply moving your eyes. By using electrodes placed around the eyes to track the movement of a players eyeballs, they were able to jury rig a Nintendo to accept eye movement as controller input." Quite the production on the video (attached below) too.

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Modded Nintendo Lets You Play Mario With Your Eyes

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  • Video games (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:58AM (#33136558)

    Now with even less exercise. That's right! No more tiresome finger muscle use.

    • Re:Video games (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:00AM (#33136582) Journal

      Consider paraplegics that might want to play video games, this would be great for them.

      Even without that, it's an interesting demo of what our tech can do, although I think this might have been available for a while?

      • Re:Video games (Score:4, Informative)

        by maxume ( 22995 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:23AM (#33136852)

        Its a minor quibble, but paraplegic specifically refers to someone who has lost the use of their lower body, they generally can use their hands.

        • You are correct.

          I need to start a coffee habit.

      • There are already a bunch of options for people who can't use their hands to play video games (assuming you meant quadriplegics). First result in Google provides a decent list: []
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by erroneus ( 253617 )

      I am surprised it is taking this long for people to realize a simple reality of computer use. Repetitive use, regardless of the for it takes, causes fatigue and even injury over time. They thought they were helping when they created the mouse. Well, they did, but it only saved time over using the cursor keys on the keyboard. People still get repetitive fatigue and injuries when a mouse is used. People started using voice recognition systems and surprise, surprise, their voices became strained! Fatigue

      • by numbski ( 515011 )

        So, just for the sake of furthering the discussion, what about weight lifting? Especially the guys that go pro at it? The difference I see immediately is that they take a mandatory break week about once every 6-8 weeks without lifting at all.

        Perhaps it's just that we all don't take enough, long enough, breaks from the keyboard/mouse/game controller? Go a week every couple of months without touching any of them? I know it's rough for me - started have RSI pains in my fingertips and a few knuckles a few w

      • There needs to be a better way.

        Yes, maybe what we need is a system to naturally change form one way of control to another.
        First using your hands, then your eyes, then your body... seems to me that has more to do with game and console design.
        That would mean a lot of fun and no fatigue form repetitive tasks.

        On the other hand, it would be funny, and maybe even good for health, seen your coworkers on their cubicles standing up and stretching when their mouse period is over, and they have to start to use their body yo control the cursor

      • There needs to be a better way.

        Multiple interfaces?

        Eyes, Mouse, Keyboard, Speech to Text recognition, sophisticated Brain scanning, all at once - nothing gets overworked?

        Just needs necessary algorithms to detect when people are switching off tasks

  • And my instructors at ITT wouldn't let me build a circuit that would work off the voltages that could be taken from the temples (I could pick up a signal using the o-scopes at school and figured I could build a circuit to go off that, instructors were worried about me being electrocuted (lolwut?!))

  • Sounds awkward. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yamata no Orochi ( 1626135 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:04AM (#33136638)

    Not sure I see the usefulness. Do you have to look at the right side of the screen to move right? Seems like that would obscure your ability to observe and react to things on-screen. Article doesn't seem to want to load, unfortunately. Is this innovative because of the eye-movement tracking? I thought that was already possible for years now. Seems like a weird thing to track to control a videogame character. Work on that brainwave reader instead.

    Now if they could -intercept- your eye movement signals before it actually reached your eyes, I could see applications in FPS games...Imagine staring statically at a screen that moved and turned based on where you WANTED to move your eyes, without your eyes actually moving.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      I assume looking right for them to move right didn't worked well, because then they wouldn't see the screen.

      So instead they let you "look left" to move right. Which doesn't work well either as long as your head is stationary but if you move your head to the right for the same amount atleast you will still be able to see the screen.

      Not very impressive stuff though, reading off small electrical signals from the muscles around the eyes (I haven't watched more than a few seconds of the video and with no sound)?

    • Actual application for this is in the interfaces for the handicapped.
      The game is there just to point out how "easy" it is to use.

      Personally, I find the interface a bit... unsettling. []
      And the use of Mario is simply sacriligious.
      Using Mario like that. He did no harm to anyone.
      Well... except Bowser and his minions. But they were all bad.

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      I always keep saying that eye-movement control inputs should be a last resort -- for people with things like ALS where you have nothing else left (in ALS you usually have blinks, though, and those are easier to reliably sense).

      Eye movements partake in acquisition of visual input. If you have to control things with eye movements, you usually do it at the cost of not seeing what you'd ordinarily see.

      As for the interception idea of yours: said screen would have to have a very good refresh rate. For visual expl

    • I agree this sounds awkward. But if you noticed, one guy was moving his head from side to side (which allows you to move your eyes while still looking directly at the screen). And having an action perform when you blink would be horrible. Could you imagine trying to keep your eyes from blinking until crucial moments, and what your eyes would feel like after an hour of that?
  • Oh my God the possibilities are endless.
  • I always thought how sad it is that people with certain disabilities can't experience gaming, even thought it wouldn't take much to make those experiences available to them. In this specific case it isn't so easy, but I can't see why there aren't adventure games for blind people, as an example.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      While I have no problems with making games accessible to those with handicaps, video games are a visual thing (as hinted at in the descriptive word "video"). How would you make a video game for a person who cannot process visual cues or input?

      • One word (with several versions)

        • I think this is one of those moments where you have to draw the distinction between video-based and text-based games. To borrow from what DarkKnightRadick said, the difference is in how the cues are given. A text-based game's output can easily be converted to audio but to my knowledge, the same can't be done for a video-based game.

          Zork can be played purely with a screen reader or text-to-speech software, the video component isn't necessary to know what the game is telling you, MUDs and MUSHes are also ve

          • After I hit submit for my original post, I thought about text-based games but since I did give the caveat of "video" in my response, I didn't think a follow up was necessary. Apparently it was.

            Thanks for refining my answer. (:

        • I have Zork I, II, and III (:

      • The "video" word is somewhat limiting, so let's use the term "electronic entertainment". I think auditory cues, like ambient noise, sound effects and tactile feedback, in addition to voices or TTS, could be interesting alternatives. At the very least is a challenge in game design.

        I suppose stereo headphones or surround sound could help to create immersion.

        • Even with all that, they still won't be able to avoid that very silent table until they hit it and might or might not be able to get around it with the technologies you just mentioned.

          And I purposely limited it because people are talking about computer and console games which, by their very definition now-a-days (when is the last time a text adventure was released?) is a video game.

          What sort of feed back to you envision for games like various versions of solitaire?

          How about Hearts? Poker?

          If it can be done,

    • I can't see why there aren't adventure games for blind people, as an example.

      You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.

      • > LOOK
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You wake up. The room is spinning very gently round your head. Or at least it
        would be if you could see it which you can't.

        It is pitch black.

        >obviously, you insensitive clod. i'm blind.
        I don't know the word "obviously".

        >feel around
        That sentence isn't one I recognise.

        What do you want to listen to?

        >listen to environment
        I don't know the word "environment".

        I don't know the word "echolocate".

        What do you want to examine?

        >examine surroundings
        I don't know the word "surr
        • Also on the subject, did anyone actually come up with the idea to put the dangly bit in their advanced tea substitute and think that they were actually doing what they were supposed to?
    • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:29AM (#33136890)

      I get the feeling I'm playing with disabled people all the time when I log into WoW

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cgomezr ( 1074699 )

      Fortunately, there are. Virtually all modern text adventures (or interactive fiction, as people like to call them now) can be played by blind people that use screen readers, like most programs that output text to a terminal or text area.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      I always thought how sad it is that people with certain disabilities can't experience gaming

      Gaming is the least of life's pleasures people with certain disabilities can't experience. There are lots of things people can't experience that make me far mor sympathetic.

      Then again, I grew up in a world where videogames didn't exist. Yeah, I like them (put a lot of quarters in machines in the late '70s and early '80s, and had tons on my PC in the '90s), but there are far more pleasurable things out there that peop

  • by yerktoader ( 413167 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:18AM (#33136790) Homepage
    I don't care if they get Fred Savage and Jenny Lewis to make a sequel to The Wizard, I'm not saving up my allowance for six months to buy a goddamned Power Glove for my eyes.
  • by underqualified ( 1318035 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:20AM (#33136812)
    Stephen Hawking deserves to play StarCraft 2.
  • I keep wishing for a hands-free mouse. Taping electrodes to your face every day at work--won't, but glasses (or something using your webcam) might. Anyone seen something like this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by flahwho ( 1243110 )

      I keep wishing for a hands-free mouse. Taping electrodes to your face every day at work--won't, but glasses (or something using your webcam) might. Anyone seen something like this?

      I haven't seen anything because these annoying electrodes are glued to my eyes.

    • I've looked into this a bit a little while ago there wasn't anything in the general consumer field but there were a few companies who had commercial products. As for practicality there are some problems first while eye tracking is amazing when it comes to making very fast gross movements it falls apart when it comes to fine movements; second there is the Midas Touch problem how do you control what a click is, blinking doesn't really work too well because we do it all the time w/o thinking.

      That being said
      • while eye tracking is amazing when it comes to making very fast gross movements it falls apart when it comes to fine movements

        Eye trackers have been tracking fine movements for decades. In the last 5-10 years, the equipment has gotten smaller, faster, and easier to use. The problem isn't the tracking, it's the eyes. Your eyes jump around approximately 3-4 times per second, and they don't always go where you think they do. Due to the way the visual system works, the mouse/cursor would just jump around the screen every few hundred milliseconds, and would serve as more of a distraction than an aide. Very minor calibration issues also

    • I keep wishing for a hands-free mouse. Taping electrodes to your face every day at work--won't, but glasses (or something using your webcam) might. Anyone seen something like this? [] Their primary goal is for drawing and graffiti, but their app for tracking can be used to move the mouse cursor (I think). My friend built one, and it's really not all that hard.

  • Side effects? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by that IT girl ( 864406 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:29AM (#33136902) Journal
    If you thought gaming for too long gave you headaches before, think about how this would be after a relatively short amount of time.
  • Great... (Score:2, Insightful)

    A control method that requires you to look away from the screen. The possibilities are endless indeed.
    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      You could just invert the controls.

      Keep your eyes on the screen and turn your head to the right. This controller would interpret it as "left" and you'd move left. Ditto for any direction. So just flip the horizontal and vertical axes (i.e. looking up = down arrow, looking right = left arrow) and you can keep your eyes on the screen. Although it uses eyes to judge direction, inverting the controls makes it about head movement instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The guy at the end of the video was moving his head whilst keeping his eyes fixed on the screen. It would probably be much easier to inverse the inputs and control the character by pointing your face in the direction you want the character to go, rather than pointing your eyes.

    • That would promake you very dizzy, would require far more effort than using your hands, and would be likely to cause neck injuries. I don't see much future in this, as mouth controls already exist for people who don't have the use of their hands to play video games. It was a great project for students to learn, but it's unlikely to have any practical use outside the lab.
      • I used to play "Descent" and its sequels a lot. Funny thing was, I was unaware of how much I was moving around trying to accept the "zero-gravity 3D" environment that "Descent" used. My wife, on the other hand, was invariably amused at how much I'd move around playing that game.

        My point is that you probably aren't exactly sitting still playing the games you are today anyway. In fact, many people are probably moving their heads unconsciously in much the same manner as they would to control a game like thi

  • At last! quadriplegics can play mario!
  • Possibly Fake? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Becausegodhasmademe ( 861067 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:02AM (#33137240)

    In the NES is a Super Mario Bros II cartridge, however the game being played on the TV is Super Mario Bros I. If this part is faked, I wonder what else in this story is fraudulent.

  • "You mean you have to use your hands?" -video game kid1

    "That's like a baby's toy!" -video game kid 2

    "Nope! Not anymore!" -Waterloo Labs Engineer

  • Here's a product that will allow mouse control with the eyes and requires no electrodes: []
  • Waterloo Labs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pinkushun ( 1467193 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:22AM (#33137534) Journal

    These guys are sharp and innovative. They're the same guys who used accelerometers on a wooden panel wall, and projected a FPS onto the wall, allowing you to play with real guns, air rifles, and even shovels. []

  • You damn well know the only reason someone would modify a computer to get it to do what they want, is so they can play pirated games. And if they're telling people what they did, isn't that contributory infringement?

    There's also the DMCA aspects. Requiring the hand-controller dongle in order to work, is a technological measure that limits access to the game, which this dude is circumventing.

  • ...To Release Eyes
  • Modded Nintendo Lets You Play Mario With Your Eyes

    Sweet! Now I can play with 0 hands on the controller when I'm movin' that big, sexy, hairy beast all over the screen!

  • This is an awesome hack, but I would imagine it's nearly impossible to play a videogame by moving your eyes like that. Your eyes are already busy, dedicated to seeing stuff. And usually you probably are staring at the thing you need to avoid/shoot, not looking to where your game avatar needs to go. And even if you are looking where you're supposed to go next, probably this doesn't involve large-scale eyeball motion like "look up at the ceiling" to go up when you really just need to move a few sprite bloc

    • by pezpunk ( 205653 )

      meanwhile, we've got these strange finger things at the end of our upper appendages that almost look as if they spent the last million years or so perfecting the art of precise manipulation and physical coordination. adapting the eyes to accomplish the same job is simply using the wrong tool.

      • Playing Nintendo with it is just a technology demonstration - they haven't modded the Nintendo itself they've just created a new input controller for it.

        This same technology could be used by quadriplegics, for example, to control an electric wheelchair and give them some mobility.

  • That stupid drum loop paired with the Super Mario Bros. theme was making my ears bleed.
  • But any further application of this is just lost on me, unless 8-bit side scrollers come back in full force. Howerver if this is a step in the direction of true neural interfaces I am all in.
  • If it becomes affordable, they could flip the concept around and use it in survival horror games to determine where the next enemy comes from, and when to strike. (Too much eye movement, let things calm down...Ok, the player seems a little too relaxed, have something nasty jump out at him).

  • This sure looks great, no doubt about it!

    However, I don't that having to actually look up and down for the up and down movement is very practical, at least for games. That split second that your eyes move up or down, away from the screen, can make all the difference in a game. The side movement is not a big problem, because we can easilly tilt the head side by side, keeping the eyeballs focused in front of the screen (like a guy in the video did). It's the up and down movement that is tricky.

    Even so, this i

  • Would it kill the editors/submitters to put a link to the original source in the story? []

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost