At the CYBATHLON 2016, contestants with severe physical disabilities went head to head as pilots of their technical assistant systems.
The Subject Area in Game Design of the Zurich University of the Arts developed the computer game «Brain Runners» as one of the six CYBATHLON disciplines, in cooperation with the ETH Sensory-Motor Systems Lab. In the Brain Runners game, pilots guide their characters to the finish line using brain signals that are picked up by Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCIs) via electroencephalography (EEG) or near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). The pilots transmit cerebral signals at the right moment in order to accelerate their avatars in the race or to help them overcome obstacles. Incorrect signals result in deductions.
The BCI pilots have severely inhibited or entirely non-existent motor functions from the neck upwards due to a spinal cord injury, a neurological disease or a similar disability. The BCI-Technology will be further developed in order to enable people with quadriplegia to control devices as e.g. a computer, a robotic arm, or a wheel-chair in the future.
At the CYBATHLON, the game was simultaneously shown in two visually different versions: one visually reduced version for the concentrated pilots, and another one in a visually entertaining version for the audience. The demo-version for the public shows how much mental training is necessary to be able to control the game using the Brain-Computer-Interface.