We first got a glimpse at OCZâ€™s Neural Impulse Actuator, (NIA), which uses electrical signals generated by your brain and translates them into commands for your PC.
The NIA consists of a headband with three sensors and a small box which converts the signals into commands for the game or application youâ€™re using. With the NIA in development, the control box you can see in the picture is still the engineering size but OCZ reckon itâ€™ll be much smaller in the final production model, which is due out later this year.
Now, given the frankly mad idea of controlling a game with a few electrodes attached to my noggin, I just had to give the NIA a go. Set up is pretty simple with a quick calibration section to measure your average brainwave activity. Once this is done you then follow on-screen instructions to assign various facial movements to a band. These are just simple movements like clenching your jaw or raising your eyebrows. How strongly you do this can be assigned to another band, so the same movement, used more strongly, can be used for another action. Once this is done you just assign the set bands to a keypress and then youâ€™re ready to go.
Loading up Unreal Tournament 2004, I had my jaw set for run forwards with a tighter clench for jumping and a glance to either right or left for straffing left or right. Now I must admit that I thought this was going to be damn near impossible to use and more fiddly than useful but I was actually surprised at how easy and accurate it was.
Pretty soon, once I was used to timing my jaw right, I was double jumping with little trouble and doing a half-decent circle strafe. For sure, youâ€™d very likely have to spend a decent bit of time fine tuning the NIA to get the best out of it but for those of use who may have limited use of our limbs, this could be a very handy new input system. For the more able bodied the NIA probably has less appeal but dependant on price it might find a market in the flight sim community as a cheaper alternative to Track IR and it does have the advantage of not needing a high quality webcam and decent lighting levels to work.