OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator (nia) - The Log
Author: Chris Buer
With the new configuration screen, relaxation is the key to setting the nia up correctly. Once suitably relaxed, the readout displaying your output drops to the desired baseline and the end result is a much more accurate set up than previously encountered with the old software version. Again you are required to concentrate on a gyroscope but this time around it appears the computer is really thinking about the signals it’s receiving from you. This was backed up by the fact that I could now move the glance function, albeit a little shaky, but this was an improvement over the previous drivers.
So, once configured I decided to jump into my favourite FPS shooter, Counter Strike Source. Luckily, the nia software has a set of pre-loaded profiles with Halflife2 being one of them! The first test was on the map Dust2. Now I must point out at this stage that I had not used the nia before in a game and I jumped straight into a game cold. Sometimes this is the best approach as you’re not clouded by information overload, something that can easily occur when trying to understand a product like this.
The nia was set up to allow me to control the movement of my player and also fire my weapons. The muscle feature was one a bind to mouse1 which allowed me to shoot by clenching my teeth or raising my eyebrows. Movement (WASD) was bound to my glance and alpha / beta waves.
Trying to explain the experience is quite difficult, but sufficed to say that I did have fairly good control after a short space of time. By relaxing my mind, the character would run forward and by tensing my mind, he would slow and then run backwards, dependant on my tension level. The only problem I encountered was trying to stop the character from moving because trying to balance my inputs to hold in a stationary position was fairly difficult. But it’s still early days and there is a learning curve here.
The best way I can describe the movement experience is like balancing on a see-saw. Depending on how much pressure you exert from one leg to the other will determine the weight shift and thus the direction in which your body will move (left or right). It’s a similar practice with the nia but instead of moving your muscles, you use your mind. A relaxed mind allows the character to move forward and a tensed mind slows, stops and reverses him. Clever stuff I’m sure you’ll agree!
The “glance” function was interesting to say the least and probably the only function that continues to elude me when in game. At times I felt as if I had control over it, by flicking my eyes left or right, the character would move in that direction. However other times I struggled to control this. Maybe I need more practice!
The final feature I had bound was the muscle function to mouse1 (for firing my weapons). I found this extremely easy to master and just by raising my eyebrows or clenching your teeth, I could fire off rounds very quickly. One word of warning though, if you bind the shoot to the muscle function and like chewing gum or eating whilst gaming, be careful! After chewing some gum and trying to explain to my teammates the reason I gunned half of them down at the start of a round was slightly difficult. However having said that, it’s still early days in terms of my progress.
After I’d finished my game, I tested my reactions within the nia’s software. The interesting point here is that according to the tests, I am still quicker clicking the mouse than using the nia’s muscle function. However, I’m sure with a bit more practice this will change and enable me to enjoy this very immersive experience even further.