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Input Devices Entertainment Games Technology

OCZ's Brain Wave Interface Headband Reviewed 89

J. Dzhugashvili writes "Could you control a game using your jaw muscles, eye movements, and brain waves? OCZ designed its futuristic Neural Impulse Actuator controller for that very purpose, and it claims the device lets players shorten their response times and interact with games more naturally. But is it really all it's cracked up to be? The Tech Report took the NIA for a spin in order to answer that question, and it made some interesting discoveries along the way. The verdict is that the NIA works (mostly) as advertised, but getting used to it can take enough dedication and perseverance to put off many prospective users."
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OCZ's Brain Wave Interface Headband Reviewed

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  • by Dice ( 109560 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:02PM (#23977051)

    ... to the first person to frag Stephen Hawking.

  • by TomRK1089 ( 1270906 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:04PM (#23977059)
    From TFA, it sounds like it's responding more to your small muscle movements than actual neural control. It's not as though you picture yourself running, and Gordon Freeman jogs across the screen. In that regard, there's a long way to go to true neural control.
  • Or you can just blow into the microphone.

    • There isn't actually a microphone...
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's a Nintendo DS joke.

        • Maybe, but I beg to differ. I remember the original NES had an amazing tool [wikipedia.org] that allowed you to look through the "laserscope" and say "Fire" and it would shoot the light gun. Or you could just blow into the mic... ;) But I could be wrong. God knows it works with the DS too... maybe it's just my age showing. :D
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Bieeanda ( 961632 )
            There was a PC game back in the days of DOS, that used the same gimmick. It came with a cheap headset mike, and would fire when you said 'fire'. It would also fire when you sneezed, and would waste ammo when you shouted at your Mom that you were busy doing something important and would she please leave you the fuck alone.
        • by suso ( 153703 ) *

          Actually, this was a joke about the old C64 game Echelon, which came with such a headset. Annoying gimmick. The game was Ok though.

  • For instance, one can trigger the Alpha 2 meter by thinking of an expletive.

    Oh, the possibilities... 8)

  • by kcbanner ( 929309 ) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:30PM (#23977241) Homepage Journal
    ...they said I should remove my tin foil hat.
  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:54PM (#23977409) Homepage
    But when do I get the 1/8" jack on the back of my neck?
  • Powerglove (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ottawanker ( 597020 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:04PM (#23977477) Homepage

    So basically its a Powerglove for your head.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Technically, that would make it the Powerhat.

  • I hear OCZ has a new twist on brain waves.

    • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:12AM (#23977855) Journal

      Proud member of the American Non Sequitur Society. We might not make much sense, but boy do we love pizza!

      Why is it always pizza? I've been seeing you guys for twenty years, and it's always been pizza. If you were really into non sequiturs you could factor out the trade winds and integrate with respect and courage till the cows came and went. If you get my estoppal.


  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:11PM (#23977515)

    It would be too easy to defeat a player using one of these. Simply flash up a picture of a naked chick and all brain activity will cease as another body part will take over the 'thinking', and this device won't be able to pick anything up anymore.

  • 100 ms (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ai Olor-Wile ( 997427 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:24PM (#23977585) Homepage
    "Unless you're Fatal1ty, you probably don't care too much about shaving 100 ms off your reaction times, and you probably have plenty of fun with your mouse and keyboard, gamepad, or Wii-mote already."

    I hate to break it to this guy, but 100 ms is a very, very long time in most FPS games!
    • Like three frames in TV...?
      • Re:100 ms (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:34AM (#23977979)
        That's quite a lot. 100ms of lag is very noticeable in almost any FPS and even some RTS games (you can easily pick out 100ms lag in a Starcraft game). Widening the field a bit, many fighting games have timing down to one or two frames (as in, in order to block a certain attack, you have to complete another move within a few frames of the attack animation). Going back to FPS, say you have a rocket blasting at you (UT2k4, TF2, Halo, whatever). Say it takes maybe 300ms for the missile to hit you from the moment you see it, and you need to hit jump 100-50ms before impact to survive. With zero lag, you have 200ms to start (human reaction time to visual averages around 200ms). So you can pull it off fairly consistently. You have 100ms of lag, and now its just impossible.
        • Well put. Expanding on that, very few serious gamers are running at 30fps on the PC. At a more-plausible 60-120fps, you're looking at 6-12 frames elapsing in that 100ms period. From my experience practicing on the original UT with Godlike bots at 180% speed or higher (it wasn't designed to handle CPU's that dynamically frequency scale), most kills are scored before you're even fully conscious of the enemy's presence. In fast-paced gameplay situations like that, it takes much less than 100ms to make the
    • by digitac ( 24581 )

      Damn LPBs!
      In MY day we had 300ms ping times and LIKED IT!

  • Things like this aren't really that spectacular until v3 or v5. Once they have most of the bugs and kinks worked out from people using it and telling them, what sucks so much and just getting feedback in general will allow the later versions to greatly appeal to the regular Joe PC gamer or even Console gamers.

    This being the first release of a completely new consumer category i really didn't expect much. More than likely we'll see other company's following through with there own brain wave scanner things, i

  • One thing the NIA won't let you do is control mouse movements; the software only supports binding inputs to keystrokes. Since the "glance" meter only tracks the X axis to begin with, I doubt the NIA would be a useful mouse replacement even if OCZ implemented such a feature. You'll still have to use a good old mouse to look around in first-person shooters.

    Seeing that at the end of the article almost nixed it for me... until I remembered seeing this [vuzix.com] recently and now wish I had the extra cash to see if it IS possible to use them in conjunction...

  • Obligatory quote from Back to the Future: "Do you know what this means? It means that this damn thing doesn't work at all!"

  • If I have this device, I can no longer blame my crappy game play on my crappy hardware. Now I lose because I'm stupid. Move along. Nothing to see here.
  • I've heard some people asking about the possibilities the NIA brings to people who have difficulty using mice or keyboards. The NIA does not replicate full mouse or keyboard functionality, but something that my classmates cooked up for a final project does: http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/ee476/FinalProjects/s2008/xh33_jdm55_ww239/xh33_jdm55_ww239/index.html [cornell.edu] It's a mouse + keyboard that you wear on your head. It tracks eye movement and winks, allowing a user to direct a mouse pointer around the s
  • Fear Factor? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IonOtter ( 629215 )

    This should make games like "Alone in the Dark", "Resident Evil" and "BioShock" a LOT harder.

    Monster: "OOOGITY-BOOGITTY!"


    Game: You have been eviscerated. Try again.

  • On the user's PC, the NIA control software converts electrical potentials from the headband into usable input. Schuette explains that the software separates the different frequencies in these potentials using proprietary algorithms not unlike fast Fourier transforms. Running these algorithms on a continuously streaming flow of data can apparently hog some "serious CPU cycles," although we didn't see the control application eat up much more than 10-15% of our test rig's Core 2 Duo E6400.

    A DSP that computes a

  • According to OCZ Technology Development Director Michael Schuette's article on the subject, the sensors are made of a plastic injected with highly conductive nanofibers, which the NIA hardware uses to read electrical potentials from the user's forehead.

    BS factor = 0.79 (WTF is a "conductive nanofiber"? This is the sort of terminology you use when you're trying to pull the nonconductive wool fibers over someone's eyes.)

    On the user's PC, the NIA control software converts electrical potentials from the headba

  • Deep creases and toned faces...
  • I want one of these, plus some continually learning software, plus one of those robot arms that were being plugged into monkey heads a while back.

    Finally, humans will be able to use a mouse AND keep two hands on the keyboard, or develop the skill to scrape a dinner plate into a flip-top bin!

  • Just wait until we find some investors and unleash the Tourette's Helmet to the world! Utilizing patented scripting technology, no one will be able to stop you once you don this baby. If someone launches a rocket at you simply yell "CRAP!" and you'll dodge it instantly. Sniper taking pot shots at you? Simply yell "HOLY SHIT!" and you'll scramble and juke your way to safety. Incoming artillery strike? Simply yell "FUCK SHIT FUCK!!!" and you'll be out of harm's way in no time.
  • [quote]Episode 21 - 25/06/2008

    WMV http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/vodcast/newinventors_2008_ep21.wmv
    MP4 http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/vodcast/newinventors_2008_ep21.mp4
    This special episode features new ideas on how to use your mind to control machines; drive blind but know the danger ahead; and fit men with a remote controlled contraceptive.[/quote]

    This device seems easier to learn and interface with.

    This episode shows a head set that enables the wearer to control objec

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban