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Immersion

Suffer from gamer rage? This sleek-looking Immersion headset might help

There’s a growing phenomenon in the gaming community characterized by an intense frustration resulting from playing a video game. The same way, you find those people carrying baseball bats and golf clubs in their cars in case of being overcome by road rage, you’ll find gamers screaming at their screens for hours on end. Immersion is a headset that aims to tackle this issue by integrating biometrics and video games.

Jacques Coetzee: staff reporter
Jacques grew up in Stellenbosch, South Africa. He also studied International Relations (BA) at Stellenbosch University with an interest in innovation and initiatives and how they could... More

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In order to control gamers’ vine-popping fun, Immersion uses an optical pulse sensor built into the earpiece to record the gamers heart rate. The sensor reads minute colour changes in the gamer’s ear tissue to approximate a pulse. It then syncs wirelessly over Bluetooth to any computer capable of running the game built by visual designer Sam Matson.

The concept is based on a punish reward system. Matson designed a First-person shooter (FPS) game that lowers or increases the difficulty of the game based on how your heart is fairing. For example, when your heart rate is calm and steady, the game is easier. There are fewer enemies and they are weaker. As your heart rate accelerates, there’ll be more enemies with cutting-edge armor and gear.

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Matson hacked an Xbox controller, used the embedded pulse sensor, and fitted it onto the sleek-looking headset that’s design has been perfected taking into account every aspect from ergonomics to sex appeal.

By monitoring a bunch of Halo gamers’ heart rates, it was found that people get tense or stressed during combat and cools down during and right after death. “Kinda like road rage. The other people don’t know you so you say whatever… it’s easy to get too into it and loose your cool,” says one interviewed gamer.

As explained in an Immersion blog post, “Added stress elicits an immediate response from the gamer’s body. They will perspire, their muscles will tense and their heart will beat faster. As a result, one effective indicator of the gamer’s stress level is their heart rate.”