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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Video Game Controller Is A Handy Educational Tool

Educational video games can be a parent’s best friend and a child’s worst nightmare. But that doesn’t always have to be the case.

At CyberLearning Technologies, Sony PlayStation racing and platform-jumping games are being transformed into brain boosters, thanks to a special controller distributed from the company’s headquarters in San Marcos. The special controller is part of a larger system package that retails for $548 and includes a “smart box,” sensor wiring, helmet and wireless computer receiver. While the controller may look the same as any other standard PlayStation controller, its makers insist it can actually improve concentration levels, and they have two years’ worth of research to back it up.

The system was unveiled in 2002 and, until recently, was only available to a select number of users under the care of about 50 licensed clinicians, including psychologists and neurologists across the country. The home version of the system hit the market early this year and plans are under way to eventually adapt the system for Nintendo’s Gamebox and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles.

Called Smart BrainGames, the system was designed to help children and adolescents with diagnosed attention deficit disorder. But adults without ADD can also use it to sharpen their concentration and focus.

Help is achieved when the player wears a helmet equipped with sensors that feed into a smart box, which allows players to select their level of need for guidance. The smart box then works as a monitor between the special controller and ordinary game console to manipulate the game so that it can perform only as well as the player wants it to.

In other words, if the player’s attention wanders, the game itself will slow until the player focuses back on it.

The system is based on patented NASA technology that was originally developed to keep pilots more focused in the cockpit.

Dr. Domenic Greco, CyberLearning’s president and founder, developed the system with his wife, Lindsay. Both have more than 20 years of experience running clinical medicine centers treating brain disorders.

“It’s exciting,” Greco said. “People can actually enjoy the game because it’s something that they already like and get the benefit of increased brain function, too.”

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Fastest 50:

San Diego County’s fastest-growing technology company, according to Deloitte & Touche LLP, designs, manufactures and markets tools for spinal surgeries.

NuVasive, Inc. ranked No. 1 on Deloitte’s annual list, which the national professional services firm initially released Aug. 3 in alphabetical order and then re-released in ranking form on Sept. 22.

According to the list, which includes only high-tech and biotech companies with headquarters in San Diego County, NuVasive grew by 73,752 percent in the past five years. Recently, in the second quarter of 2005, NuVasive, which incorporated in 1997, earned $15 million in total revenues, up 70.7 percent from the $8.8 million earned in the second quarter of 2004.

NuVasive trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NUVA. It opened the week of Sept. 19 trading at $16.74.

Both private and public companies were eligible for the list. The other nine technology companies in San Diego County to grow the fastest during the past five years, in ranking order from Nos. 2 to 10, are: BakBone Software, Inc.; SkinMedica; Illumina, Inc.; XIFIN, Inc.; Active Motif, Inc.; PacketVideo Corp.; Active Network, Inc.; Leap Wireless International, Inc.; and Acceris Communications, Inc.

Send high-tech news to Jessica Long via e-mail at jlong@sdbj.com. She can also be reached at (858) 277-6359.


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