The Star Wars Force Trainer is a new toy which was released this September after going on pre-sale in July 2009. It is hotly tipped to be the no. 1 selling toy for Christmas 2009. You might not believe your eyes when you see it, but the toy really is controlled by the power of thought.
Players control the height of a floating ball by concentrating their thoughts or “honing Jedi skills”. Encouraged by Master Yoda, the padawan moves through a series of levels designed to improve control over the force trainer.
There are no Derren Brown tricks – the Force Trainer uses electroencephalography (EEG) sensors on a head set to measure electrical activity along the scalp. Alpha, beta, gamma and delta waves are measured by the headset and transmitted without wires to the ball tower which converts the signal. This in turn controls a fan at the base of a plastic tube which allows the ball the float at different heights.
The game itself is easy to put together but needs a lot of batteries – so be warned if you are buying this as a present. It takes 6 x AA and 2 x AAA batteries. Also, the equipment needs calibration before you can start the fun, which may be a little frustrating for six-year-olds on Christmas morning.
The equipment is fascinating – even for adults. Theories come forth thick and fast. Is the movement of the trainer influenced by laughter? anger? is it because you looked away? Does it make a difference if you take the headset off?
This might not be a game that young children get out of the cupboard time and time again, but it is highly amusing for a group of people on a large occasion such as Christmas.