The Day You Discard Your Body
Chapter 8 - Understanding Vertebrane
by Marshall Brain


Vertebrane is the ultimate video game controller. Here's how it will work.

Imagine that you want your in-game body to act just like your biological body. Your goal is to disconnect your brain from your biological body and connect it to a virtual in-game body that is better than your own. In particular:

  • You want your in-game body to feed your sensory channels in the same way that your biological body feeds them. For example, you want your brain to see the exact image that your in-game body would see if it had human eyes.
  • You want your brain to be able to smell, taste, touch and hear everything experienced by your in-game body.
  • You want to feel sensations like balance, muscle position, pleasure and pain experienced by your in-game body in the same way your biological body does.
  • When you brain sends nerve signals to any muscle in your biological body, you want a corresponding "muscle" in your in-game body to react in the same way.
How would you accomplish that?

photo by Patrick Hermans
In order to pump realistic in-game images into your brain, you need to tap into your brain's optic nerves. The in-game images flow straight into the visual cortex of your brain, so that your brain sees the in-game world in exactly the same way you see the real world now.

It is the same for sounds and other sensations. Sounds from the game need to flow straight into the auditory nerves coming from your ears. Sensations of taste and smell from the game need to flow directly into the nerve pathways from your nose and tongue.

The sense of touch is handled by hooking directly into the spinal cord. That lets us pick up all touch sensations from every part of the body below the neck. The spinal cord connection also allows Vertebrane to gain control of all the body's main muscle groups as well. Similar smaller taps gain access to facial muscles and touch sensors as well.

The idea is to pump artificial sensory perceptions from your in-game body right into these main sensory nerve bundles as they enter the brain. In a similar way, all of the messages from your brain to your muscles flow to your in-game body and it moves accordingly.

In other words, the Vertebrane system installs shunts into every nerve pathway connecting to your brain. That happens both with sensory nerve fibers heading toward the brain and with a muscle control fibers heading out. Then the Vertebrane system can disconnect your brain from your biological body and connect it to an in-game body in a completely natural and realistic way. Your virtual in-game body is your body as far as your brain is concerned, and your immersion in the game is complete.

Living with Vertebrane

The Vertebrane system itself is a small but extremely powerful computer system. It might be manufactured so that it replaces one of the upper cervical vertebrae in your spine. A small fuel cell is packaged with the computer, and it uses glucose in the blood for power.

Robotic surgeons install the Vertebrane computer in your spine. They sever the spinal cord and reroute it into the Vertebrane computer. There are also taps into all of the major sensory nerve pathways like the optic nerves and the auditory nerves.

The Vertebrane system is wireless, and it has several modes. In one mode, it is completely pass-thru. All the nerve messages to and from your brain pass through the Vertebrane system as though it is not there. Your body behaves completely normally. As far as you are concerned, the Vertebrane system is invisible.

In another mode, the Vertebrane system disconnects your brain from your body and reconnects it to an in-game body. This in-game body has the same 600 muscle groups that your natural body has, and your brain controls all of these virtual muscles in the same, completely natural way that you control your biological muscles. The eyes of your in-game body replace your natural eyes. The same is true for touch, taste, smell, balance, pleasure, pain, etc. In other words, your brain completely connects to your in-game body, and your experience of the game is completely immersive.

With Vertebrane, you actually live inside the game. The game world is no different from the real world as far as your brain is concerned.

<<< Go to Chapter 7     |     Intro     |     Go to Chapter 9 >>>

Table of Contents

About the Author

See Also

How to make a million dollars

The Teenager's Guide
to the Real World

by Marshall Brain
(20 free chapters online)

Making money with web sites

Robotic Nation

Manna

Thank you for visiting today,

© Copyright 2005 by Marshall Brain. All rights reserved.