Tag Archives: NASA

The biocybernetic loop: A conversation with Dr Alan Pope

The biocybernetic loop is the underlying mechanic behind physiological interactive systems. It describes how physiological information is to be collected from a user, analysed and subsequently translated into a response at the system interface. The most common manifestation of the biocybernetic loop can be seen in traditional biofeedback therapies, whereby the physiological signal is represented as a reflective numeric or graphic (i.e. representation changes in real-time to the signal).

In the 90’s a team at NASA published a paper that introduced a new take on the traditional biocybernetic loop format, that of biocybernetic adaptation, whereby physiological information is used to adapt the system the user is interacting with and not merely reflect it. In this instance the team had implemented a pilot simulator that used measures of EEG to control the auto-pilot status with the intent to regulate pilot attentiveness.

Concept art for biocybernetic adaptive plane

Dr. Alan Pope was the lead author on this paper, and has worked extensively in the field of biocybernetic systems for several decades; outside the academic community he’s probably best known for his work on biofeedback gaming  therapies. To our good fortune we met Alan at a workshop we ran last year at CHI  (a video of his talk can be found here) and he kindly allowed us the opportunity to delve further into his work with an interview.

So follow us across the threshold if you will and prepare to learn more about the origins of the biocybernetic loop and its use at NASA along with its  future in research and industry.
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CHI 2011 Workshop – NASA does Biofeedback Gaming on the Wii

In our final workshop video Alan Pope presents “Movemental”: Integrating Movement and the Mental Game (PDF). For the uninitiated Alan Pope co-authored a paper back in the early 90’s which introduced the concept of  bio-cybernetic adaptation which has become a key work for us in the field of Physiological Computing. It was with much excitement that we received a paper submission from Alan and it was great to have him talk shop at the event.

Alan’s latest work with his colleague Chad Stephens described several new methods of adapting controller interfaces using physiology, in this case a Wii game controller. I was going to release the original footage I recorded during the workshop, however the camera failed to pick up any of the game demo’s that were shown. As one of my particular research fancies are biofeedback based game mechanics (e.g. lie-detection, sword fighting) I’ve remade the video with Alan’s permission using his power point presentation and so the demo’s can be enjoyed in all their glory.

(Pope, A., Stephens, C.) “Movemental”: Integrating Movement and the Mental Game (PDF)

A videogame or simulation may be physiologicallymodulated to enhance engagement by challenging the user to achieve a target physiological state. A method and several implementations for accomplishing this are described.

So that’s the end of our workshop video series. I hope you’ve all enjoyed them, for now I’m going to hibernate for a month to recover from the editing process.