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Mind is what matters when you arm-wrestle with WrestleBrainia

Here's what it looks like when two grown men arm-wrestle via electrical signals.

Due to my intolerable addiction to the Internet, I'm pretty terrible at arm wrestling. Luckily, the cutting edge of neurogaming technology proves that science supports my decision to never work out.

At this week's 2013 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo in San Francisco, a group of students from the University of Washington showcased their prototype: WrestleBrainia 3000.

Put together over the course of two months, WrestleBrainia is an arm-wrestling game with a twist. Instead of locking hands and arm wrestling directly (perhaps in the back of some dingy bar) the competitors control robot arms. Without touching them.

The game, devised by Jeremiah Wander, Devapratim Sarma, and Vivek Paramasivam, won this year's 2013 Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) Tech Sandbox competition.

In order to play, electromyography (EMG) sensors are attached to each player's arm. These sensors measure the respective muscle activity of each player via electrical signals--when players flex, their muscles generate more electrical activity and their robot arm wrestles harder. When players get worn out, lose focus or otherwise stop flexing, their robot arm grows weaker and--eventually--gets pinned to the table. It's an endurance test to see who can flex hardest and longest.

So naturally Alex Wawro and I had to strap in and go a few rounds to see who will be supreme leader when robots rule the Earth. (Hint: Always bet on me.)

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