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Developing brain games to help children with physical disabilities

April 19, 2022 | Julie Robert

Update : April 23, 2022

INRS students win top prize at international contest for their brain-computer interface game.

INRS students win top prize at international contest for their brain-computer interface game

Reza Amini Gougeh, Marilia Lopes, and Olivier Rosanne, doctoral students from the MuSAE Lab led by Professor Tiago Falk at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), distinguished themselves by winning 1st place at the annual BCI Game Jam. They developed a brain-computer interface 3D game at this international game festival held last fall and whose results were just announced.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are a new and growing technology allowing users to interact directly with their environment by processing their brain patterns. This technology opens up exciting new possibilities for children and adults with physical impairments. That’s because BCIs can non-invasively analyze and interpret recorded brain signals to control applications directly without the need for reliable or functional physical movements.

The INRS team was competing against 11 teams and a total of 42 developers from around the world. Along with their first-place finish, the team also won the best SSVEP game award and the “popular vote” award. Many of these brain-controlled games are now available and are actively being played by children with severe physical disabilities.

“We were extremely proud to win all these prizes. It is very gratifying to know the public and the jury appreciated our work ,” says Olivier Rosanne, PhD student.

“It encourages us to continue developing new projects that we hope will help to improve the quality of life of children with physical disabilities.”

Olivier Rosanne

Games accessible to everyone

The BCI Game Jams are run annually and leverage expert knowledge of cutting-edge BCI technology with the creative minds of game development communities around the globe. It aims to build brand new ways of creating and playing games that are accessible to everyone.

“This hackathon opened our eyes to developing accessible technologies using the brain-computer interfaces. These awards will motivate us to contribute to similar projects in this emerging field of study,” states Reza Amini Gougeh, Master’s student.

The three lab mates developed a collaborative dungeon grab-and-dash game that pits players against a fearsome dragon as they try to navigate their carts around the randomly generated map to collect gems. Players must collaborate in order to win.

“This recognition has inspired and motivated me to continue learning and developing projects that I know will somehow help people’s lives,” adds Marilia Lopes, PhD student.

“I also see how technology can be combined with health to have a positive impact on our society.”

Marilia Lopes

Overall, this experience was really exciting and inspiring for the students and they already have ideas for the next competition!