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Augustana partners with Curia for esports team's new biometric equipment

The equipment from biometric solutions company Curia can measure pulse, brainwaves and eye movement — helping the team take their play to the next level.

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — When milliseconds matter, and in gaming they do, Augustana College wants to be a cut above the rest.

That's why the college partnered with biotech solutions company Curia, to give Augustana's E-sports team access to technology that can track a player's pulse, brainwaves and eye movement.

"Having real-time data is going to be important," Augustana College Esports Director Joe Loomis told News 8's Collin Riviello. "So many times we look at it anecdotally at 'this is going to make our heart race' or we say 'this is what I looked at on the screen.' But we don't know if that's exactly what we're looking at."

One of the devices is an eye-tracker called "Tobii". It's a small, black device that resembles a webcamera and it sits at the bottom of the monitor. When active, it records a player's eye movements and displays that information in real time on a separate screen for Loomis to analyze.

"Knowing our eye movements when utilizing biometrics is going to allow us to see what the body is actually doing at every moment of the game," Loomis said.

He said that the information is useful to help train his student-athletes on specific game mechanics such as when peeking around a corner in Valorant, a tactical first-person shooter. He says if a player doesn't train themselves to automatically look right around a wall or corner, they could be eliminated by an enemy waiting behind it.

"Without eye tracking, we can't see that. We don't know. We have to trust that the athlete really understands what they're doing," Loomis added. "Right now, as a coach, as I get into it, it's going to be night and day from how I've coached previously."

And for Augustana College sophomore Carter White, a member of the esports team's Valorant roster, those special partnerships get his blood racing.

"I get really excited when Joe tells us about these deals and stuff. Esports in my head has always been like a hobby," White said. "I think a lot of the other people like on campus and even people on esports team view it that way."

But the opinion that esports aren't real sports seems to slowly be changing. 

On March 1, the International Olympic Committee announced the birth of the Olympic Esports Series. With an in-person final of nine sports to be held in Singapore this summer.

"The thing with esports compared to traditional sports is, I like that aspect that everyone can do it," White said. "It's something if you hop on a game and you spend some time on it, you're gonna be able to get good at it."

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