OCZ NIA Brain-Computer Interface

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Conclusion




The OCZ NIA is a very unique input device and possibly the first true brain-computer interface to hit the retail market. However, the NIA isn't a replacement for traditional input methods, it is merely a powerful supplement. Whether your input device of choice is a standard keyboard and mouse or a gamepad / joystick, the NIA will give you a lot of extra flexibility. Not only will you be able to control numerous commands with your mind, face muscles and eyes, you'll also instantly benefit from the response time advantage your head has over your limbs. This could mean a 100ms boost in response time, which can make all the difference in a tense game.

While we spent most of our time testing the NIA with fast FPS games where response time is of the utmost importance, it can be just as useful in other genres. In a RTS, you could use the NIA to bind build orders and unit commands. With a RPG, you can finally launch magical abilities the way they were meant to be cast, with your mind. The NIA is certainly not limited to games either. The highly versatile configuration utility and driver software allow the NIA to be used in any environment, including the Windows desktop. The NIA could become the center of your experience or it could just as easily act like a third hand, it's up to you.

Unfortunately, the NIA isn't without caveats. Before you can enjoy the unique gaming experience provided by the NIA, you'll need to slog through day upon day of training to build up your skill with the device. Thankfully, training often involves nothing more than playing games. This is definitely the hardest game controller to master on any platform. The need to calibrate before each session is also a bit of a drag. However, if you persist, you'll be rewarded with a truly unique experience. How many people can claim they won a game of Pong without using their hands or feet?

All of the R&D and technology that went into the NIA does not come cheap. A retail OCZ NIA currently costs
$147.99. While this isn't prohibitively expensive, it is definitely high-end for an input device. You get your money's worth for the most part and our only complaint is the poor build quality of the rubber headband. However, if you want to experience a brain-computer interface, the NIA is probably your only shot, at least for the time being.




In the end, whether or not the unique experience provided by the NIA is worth the price of admission is up to the individual consumer. Unfortunately the cost is two fold, both the initial monetary investment and the time investment necessary to learn the device. The decision is further complicated by the fact the NIA doesn't truly replace the keyboard and mouse, it only supplements it, like a gamepad or joystick. The NIA also won't instantly make you a better gamer, but with practice and careful profile setup, it can breath new life into your favorite games and even give you a competitive edge. The NIA is an excellent product that delivers on all advertised features but may be plagued by a small audience. OCZ could be on to something with gaming centric BCIs since the end result is a truly immersive and rewarding gaming experience, but how many gamers will be willing to put in the time, effort and money to find out?

 

 

 

 

  • Better Response Time Than Traditional Input Methods Possible
  • Truly Unique Gaming Experience
  • Powerful Configuration Tool
  • Game-specific Profiles
  • Works In Any Program, Not Just Games
  • Cheap Headband
  • Complex Profile Setup
  • High Cost (for an input device)
  • Long Learning Curve


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