Sam Matson, an industrial designer with a few interesting prototypes under his belt, has developed what looks like a working concept for a stress management headset for video gamers. The headset, called Immersion, has all the functionality of a gaming headset, with an added pulse oximeter to track heart rate. Recognizing that gamers’ performance declines as their stress levels and heart rate increases, the immersion headset provides real-time heart rate readings to control mid-game rage.
Sam also developed a custom combat game, to accompany the headset, using the Unity game engine. The game is programmed to increase its difficulty with increasing heart rate. While that may seem like adding fuel to the inferno, it is intended as a training tool for gamers to control their rage, presumably without their Halo statistics being affected.
While the concept of providing biofeedback using pulse oximetry is by no means new, we were impressed with Sam’s process, rationale and early prototype design. The details of these are laid out on his website which provides a great insight into the mind of a industrial-designer/maker that we don’t always have the benefit of seeing with more established med-tech designers.
The long-term health implications of intensive gaming and the utility of game-related stress management may take years to become apparent. However, if early evidence of sustained increases in heart rate during and after gaming produces significant clinical problems down the line, the Immersion headset may find an alternative use as a clinical or research tool.
(hat tip: Engadget)