Keyboard, Mouse and Gamepads: Those are the standard controls of today's video gamers and I personally did not think that this would change anytime soon. Then came the presentation of the OCZ Actuator which changed my mind. It looks like a high tech headband but it's actually more than that.
It decodes neural signals into unique commands that are used to interact with the computer. I found a video on Youtube that was taken on the CEBIT 2007 (a year ago) were someone was playing an ego shooter with a mouse and the OCZ Actuator. He did not have to press buttons to shoot, he did not have to press the forward key to move, all he needed the mouse for was to look around.
That's a whole new level of gaming in my opinion. OCZ will be present on this years Cebit again which takes place from March 4th to 9th in Hannover, Germany. The release date (planned) for the device is mid 2008.
Update: The OCZ OCZMSNIA Neural Impulse Actuator has been available on various online shopping sites for some time for the price of $99.99. Please note that the actual product has been discontinued which means it is no longer available in large quantities. You may still get your hands around the item on eBay for instance.
The OCZ website does not list the product anymore, even though the actual page is still available on the site.
Here is the original product description of the OCZ OCZMSNIA Neural Impulse Actuator product:
OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator (nia) marks a new era in gaming. Rather than being a substitute for a mouse, the nia is a pioneering new peripheral to be used in conjunction with your mouse for a more immersive gaming experience. The nia is compatible with any PC game using keyboard input… past, present, or future. Predefined profiles included with the software allow the gamer to develop their own nia—memory to launch the desired behavior of their character and shoot with the "blink of an eye", without lifting a finger.
Play Games Using Biosignals
Translate electrical biosignals of your body directly into computer commands and take advantage of total immersion into game play. Customize behavioral profiles of your character and let your subconsciousness take over.
Hone Your Reflexes
Where others have to practice reaction times, you can use reflex-based game play to get the better of your opponents by cutting your reaction time by 50%.
Use Space-Age Technology
The headband uses carbon nanofiber-based sensors to provide the highest possible dynamic range for the recording of bioelectrical signals that are amplified and digitized and further de-convoluted into computer commands.
Become Your Character
Streaming biopotentials into the computer and witnessing real-time feedback through the game will result in a novel way to experience virtual reality. Enter a virtual world where abstractions like keyboard commands are replaced by intentions converted into tensions and translated into command structures.
The product since then has been spun out to BCInet as a result of OCZ's IPO.
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