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9/25/2007
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Gaming Device Requires User To Relax To Win

Vyro Games has developed a "personal input pod" that works with computer games to help people learn how to reduce stress, while also having fun.

Unlike makers of the adrenalin-pumping shoot 'em-up games, startup Vyro Games wants its players to relax to win.

The Irish company, which also has an office in San Jose, Calif., has developed a gadget called a "personal input pod" that works in conjunction with the company's computer games to help people learn how to reduce stress, while also having fun.

The guitar pick-shaped device, which is held between the thumb and second finger, reads minute changes on the skin surface to determine a person's stress level. The method, called galvanic skin response, measures the skin's electrical resistance based on moisture. A stressful person will have more moisture than a calm person, and more moisture means less electrical resistance.

Vyro games, which are played on a PC, Mac, or mobile phone, respond to readings sent from the PIP over a Bluetooth wireless connection. One mood-based game called "Stormchaser," for example, starts with the player watching a stormy, night scene of high winds and heavy rains. A stressed-out person can gradually chase away the clouds and bring out the sunshine by thinking relaxing thoughts, taking lots of deep breaths, or doing whatever else it takes to relax.

"As you play the game over and over, you figure out what works for you," Paul Kewene-Hite, chief executive for Vyro, told InformationWeek. "People not only enjoy playing [the games] but they actually help them feel better."

Other games include "Relax And Race," where the racing dragon of the most relaxed player wins; and "Lie Detective," which measures a person's stress level while they are answering questions posed by other players.

Kewene-Hite hopes to launch PIP in the first half of 2008. The company is looking to sign up channel partners.

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