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Test Driven

I picked up an OCZ NIA nerve and brain wave controller

I'm not sure what I was doing when I first spotted the NIA (http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/ocz_peripherals/nia-neural_impulse_actuator), but it caught my attention and I wondered if where they could be found, Amazon had them but wouldn't ship to Canada.

When I checked at the MicroBytes (local computer parts chain) site, they had it listed, but it had to be special ordered. I wasn't setting my expectations too high when I decided I would buy it; I figured the "3 days to 3 weeks" would tend towards the 3 weeks, but it only took 4 days.

The software that comes on the CD is out of date, so there is no point to installing it, you can just download and install the most recent version from the OCZ site http://www.ocztechnology.com/drivers/OCZ_Neural_Impulse_Actuator/

Getting the headband out of its protective packing was the hardest part of the setup, after that you just plug things in and put the headband on.

I seem to have the interference problem that's described in the video on the product page. I tried unplugging the chargers that are near the computer (bye bye Internet and sound for that test); the level for the muscle signal improved a bit, but I have a variety of things that may be causing interference. For the moment, Ive positioned the box so that my arm rests on it and that eliminates the interference.

Pong: I tried it, and its hard, so I switched to the brain fingers which shows you the 8 levels: Glance, Alpha 1-2-3, Beta 1-2-3, and Muscle. At first, everything is maxed out or moving around, but when the first bursts of new toy excitement cools a bit, relaxing and clearing your mind should bring all levels down.

I had having decent results in the fingers mode, I was able to get Alpha 1 maxed with every thing else at minimum; then I decided to take a screen shot and everything went crazy again. After several close calls that resulted in excitement or muscle tension I put my finders on the right buttons and tried to do it again after several tries, I got a pretty good pic (beta3 in up a tiny bit) of it* Alpha 1. After that, I seemed to get a little stuck, it became really easy to keep Alpha 1 up and everything else down, but it was really hard to look at the NIA UI without Alpha 1 going way up. Try Pong: fail.

I don't really play much FPS, so I didn't have a game that matched the built-in profiles, so I picked the basic arrow key profile and tried Warcraft 3. I was able to scroll around a bit and I was able to "press any key" using the NIA. This is better than I what was expecting, it was time to head over to my friends place where there are many FPS games to be found, Left 4 Dead being current most played game.

We had a lot more problems getting the nia calibrated at my friends house, part of the problem was that the headband wasn't solidly plugged into the box (my bad) but there was also more interference. At home, when I am touching the box, the signal comes perfectly into range, but we had to fiddle with the calibration a bit more before we got it working smoothly over there. 

It was time to try playing Left 4 Dead in the game profiles, we selected the Half-Life 2 profile because it has the same default key mappings.I had never played Left 4 Dead before, but I have watched my friends play, so I knew what I had to do. I started a game on easy at first there was nothing happening, then some weird stuff, then we set the key mappings back to the defaults :P

It took ten or fifteen minutes in the start area and a fair bit of friendly fire to get a feel for how to move and shoot, but eventually I was able to move forward and shoot without too much effort. Moving and shooting are tied to the muscle sensor; The profile wizard will show all the settings for a profile. The glance reflex is tied to strafe right and left, it was hard to use this consciously, but it worked really well a few times in the heat of battle.  The camera control stayed on the mouse, but if I can figure out how to get the glance to control the camera, it might be possible to play mouse-less.

I was really surprised how well I was able to play, I completed the chapter using the NIA to move, shoot, and pick up weapons. There were moments when I felt like I just had to will to shoot or move and I did, but most of it was stop and go; At one point I was so stuck that I just started laughing and the character in the game started running backwards and shooting. When I got close to the exit door I couldn't move forward anymore, I would move about a foot, then stop and start shooting, the harder I tried, the more likely I was to run backwards so I had back my way into the room. My friend was almost able to do it without getting incapacitaed, but he had the same problem near the end where he couldn't go forward and a hunter got him.

Its amazing what can be done with just the muscle sensor and the glance sensor, the next step is to see what can be done with a couple wave sensors.


 

Attachment: nia a1.jpg
Published Saturday, January 17, 2009 10:25 AM by AndrewSeven

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