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Dr. Schuette arms himself with the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator headband.  (Source: Jason Mick, DailyTech LLC.)

Just a casual game of brain-controlled UT3 FPS with OCZ's Dr. Schuette.  (Source: Jason Mick, DailyTech LLC)
OCZ demos a fully working prototype of the next generation of video game control

In the world of competitive video gaming, split second reactions are essential.  Fingers are fast, but not always fast enough.  Some players turn to drugs to try to pump up their performances.  OCZ instead dreamt up and created the Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA), the world's first gaming control system that forgoes tactile inputs in favor of inputs from muscle movement, brain waves, and glance (eye movement) levels.

OCZ demoed the device in fully working form to DailyTech one late night at CES 2008.  OCZ VP of Technology Development, Dr. Michael Schuette, had the device set up in his suite, hooked up to a gaming rig via USB.

He first showed how the system is calibrated to deal with individual user physiology.  You simply put on the headband, which fits snuggly around your head at temple level, and then fire up the calibration GUI.  The GUI contains sections that allow the user to calibrate each of the input types -- muscle movement, brain waves, and glandular levels. 

For the muscle movement, the device tracks muscles in your forehead and around your eyes.  When calibrated correctly, these facial muscles provide almost effortless directional movement far smoother than with a keyboard.  You can fine tune it to easily detect the difference between turning and strafing; a critical difference to FPS players. 

Brain waves are similarly calculated.  Alpha and Beta waves are both monitored by the device and can be assigned multiple inputs.  These inputs are highly useful for changing weapons.  By utilizing what Dr. Schuette dubbed a "Tourettes impulse" he demonstrated he could raise beta waves to a high enough plateau to switch guns.  A high threshold is typically set for these values, to avoid say, changing your weapon if you are thinking about having to get up for work, or other stressful thoughts.

The last input is glance (eye movement) which can also be useful for directional movement.

Once the calibration was demoed, Dr. Schuette loaded up his "best" configuration.  After loading, the program sits on your desktop, ready for use with any game you fire up.  It uses Direct X and multithreading to minimize any performance hits.  Unreal Tournament III started up and was demoed.  Before long, DailyTech was witness to one of the most unique death-match games in history.  Using the mouse only for aiming Dr. Schuette deftly moved and changed guns using only his mind and facial muscles.  The result was a fluid zen-like play of kill after kill as he cut through the bot opponents like a hot knife through butter.

While results will likely vary, and depend on the quality of calibration, DailyTech came away from the test confident that when OCZ releases its device, which should be very soon, it will be very functional and a practical, if a bit unusual, option for gamers looking to get an edge on the competition.

Users also benefit from the device doubling as a sports and mental conditioning tool, as it can help you monitor your alpha and beta waves during meditation and visualization.  This, as OCZ points out, makes the device not only good for fragging your friends, but also for visualizing and subsequently beating your friends in tennis, soccer, and any other competitive endeavor you choose.



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Interesting
By Aikouka on 1/17/2008 3:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
This actually looks pretty cool. Like one of those things you want to try because you wonder how well it works (as long as it has a decent price) and you wonder if it could actually make you better.

Personally, I don't like devices that physically tether me to my PC/console, so that's a bit of a turn-off. The statement seems awkward, so what I mean is that unlike a controller where you just hold it, these devices are strapped/hooked onto you. Such as the Guitar Hero controllers... you typically use the strap which tethers you to the console/computer until you take it off. Just a nitpicky thing, but I think it could be pretty nifty with a bluetooth setup. I doubt it'd really add any extra weight as I swear those bluetooth headsets are getting so small you wouldn't see them without them flashing lights!

Only thing I'd worry about is you're about to frag someone when you feel it coming... it builds up inside and you try to hold it... but alas, you cannot! Achoo! Your character rotates 180 degrees and you just discover the easy way to switch directions :P. Now I doubt that you'd have a good reaction like that, but when you sneeze, your facial muscles contract a bit and that'd cause the OCZ thing to react. But I'm quite sure a bad sneeze would affect ya even with a normal KB/M setup.




RE: Interesting
By xti on 1/17/2008 4:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
yeah...like a flash bomb....or in this case...snot all over the screen and you cant see.

same thing.


RE: Interesting
By inighthawki on 1/17/2008 4:22:07 PM , Rating: 3
lol, just think of it this way, if u were really in there playing against real people, a sneeze would not only lower your guard but also give away your position, so i guess it gives u added realism at the cost of slightly added realism ;)


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