A Brainwave-Controlled Version of "Pong"

Mind Games

Ollie Bland

Few video games are more basic than Pong, but Charles Moyes and Mengxiang Jiang's version is incredibly complex. The two Cornell University students built a custom electroencephalography (EEG) device so they could control the game's onscreen paddle with their minds.

The alpha waves that EEG machines read are faint electrical signals; Moyes and Jiang ran the EEG readings through an amplification circuit to filter and boost the signals. The amplified readings are then digitized and sent over USB to a computer running the game.

Spiking alpha waves produced during relaxation move a player's paddle up, and smaller waves, indicating concentration, move it down. The size of the waves determines how much the paddle moves.