Google DeepMind thinks the best way to teach machines how to learn about the world is to place them in a virtual one, namely in video games. Since the entire experience is virtual, it's easy to reproduce exact scenarios and get a nearly unlimited amount of data from a single game. In the past, DeepMind has developed algorithms to learn from (and beat) 2D Atari games like Breakout and Pac-Man.
Of the 700,000 people who suffer from strokes every year in the United States, only 10 percent fully recover. The rehabilitation process can be long and challenging, especially for older victims in more fragile states of health. Researchers have developed exercises to strengthen patients' hand and arm muscles to improve their dexterity, but patients often get bored with the repetitive exercises and stop doing them after a while. Video games, however, have been shown to have more success, because they keep patients coming back for more practice. The MusicGlove is the first FDA-approved rehabilitation device that uses video games to help patients regain the use of their hands.
My mom always used to say that video games were never good for anything, but a new game developed in part by Ubisoft, creator of Assassin's Creed, may prove her wrong. Dig Rush, which was created in conjunction with Amblyotech Inc. and based on the research of ophthalmologists at McGill University, is more than just a game: It's designed to help treat amblyopia, the condition more commonly known as "lazy eye," where one eye doesn't work together smoothly with the other and with the brain. The National Institute of Health estimates that the condition is pretty common, affecting two or three out of every hundred children.
Imaginary creatures rule the universes of various video games, maybe none more notably than the fantastical beasts you can create all by yourself in "Spore." Ever wonder if your two-headed, seven-eyed four-legged dinosaur-thing would be able to stand up? New software developed at Harvard will make it real for you, making a new computer model and constructing a physical animal-thing with a 3-D printer.