This startup can read your feelings to shape your gaming experience in real time
Yann Frachi enjoys playing narrative video games in his spare time — from Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain and Detroit to Uncharted. Astonished by the beauty of the movie-like storytelling, he feels there’s one thing that could turn these games into truly memorable experiences: emotion.
“For me, gaming is the most advanced example of human-machine interaction. But it’s missing a layer,” Frachi, a PhD student at Queen Mary University working on a thesis about emotion and game design, says. “Up until now, game developers’ focus has been on creating hyper-realistic graphics. We propose a new way to innovate, leveraging user emotion to build a new dimension for interaction.”
Founded in Japan in 2019, Frachi’s startup OVOMIND has envisioned a gaming experience in which the player becomes the engine of each scenario, allowing his or her emotional response to control and shape the game. For Frachi, this technology mirrors what VR has done to engage the player through visuals, applying similar principles to free up interaction — this time targeting the player’s inner self.
In order to intercept the reader’s response, the team has developed a smart wristband with a sensor that can classify emotion from biosignals, sending this data to the cloud where an algorithm informs the game’s sequencing in real time based on the player’s emotional state.
“Unlike our competitors, we focus on user experience,” Frachi says. “We designed our algorithm to be narrow for interaction, to achieve a really short time of calculation and get the information as quickly as possible. Other technologies need hours of data to create a report; a few seconds of signal are enough for us to classify and send the information.”
In practice, this could mean the game can feel the player’s stress and send help, for instance, or even intensify emotion in some circumstances to create an unforgettable experience.
“Imagine a game where the monster feels what you feel, and starts chasing you when you’re stressed,” Frachi says. “Imagine the stress that can generate for you. Game developers could use this technology to increase or decrease the player’s emotional response, playing with it to create memorable moments.”
Now a team of six at MVP stage, OVOMIND joined Conception X to gain access to mentors and a network of experts to accelerate its go-to-market plans.
“We’re planning to close a new fundraising round by the end of the year and we already have some commitment from studios and influencers,” Frachi says.