Special Effect Is Allowing This Gamer To Play Minecraft With His Eyebrows
Alexander Kostov has spinal muscular atrophy - meaning he's effectively paraplegic. What this means is that traditional technology - and hence the majority of modern society - is effectively inaccessible to him. Not exactly a pleasant state of affairs, is it?
Thanks to the efforts of British charity organization Special Effect, Kostov's life has changed. Using a special rig custom-designed by the charity, Kostov - who isn't capable of operating a mouse or keyboard - is able to play video games with nothing but his eyebrows. Not surprisingly, this hardware was incredibly difficult - and more than a little painstaking - to set up.
"Finding another couple of body movements that he could use to trigger the switches reliably was going to be a challenge, so we tried a couple of things. First up, a sip/puff switch. I like it, says Alex, but I need to be able to speak my voice commands clearly," reads a post on the Special Effect blog. "Ah, we say, what about head-mounted impulse switches? They send out tiny electrical pings that are generated by a muscle twitch. "Awesome," he says after giving them a go, but sometimes I kind of need to hold a button down for a while.""
After a bit of calibration, the post continues, Kostov is using the hardware like a pro.
"They had to be VERY carefully positioned and safely mounted, but Alex is a natural. He can flip his eyebrows quickly and independently, and within ten minutes of using the switches in Minecraft, he's clicking one to jump and then, while in the air, using the other to place a block under his feet. Neat."
Neat indeed. It's incredible that technology like this actually exists - and even more so to think about where it might eventually lead. Such fine-tuned gesture control has uses that extend far beyond the world of gaming, after all - and it enables people to do far more than simply play Minecraft.