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Cyborg R.A.T. 7 Gaming Mouse
The formula for a gaming mouse is simple. Take a large contoured case, slap in a high-resolution sensor, add a buffet of buttons and presto! You have yourself a gaming mouse. This formula is common because it’s usually successful, as has been demonstrated by companies like Logitech, Razer and even Microsoft.
Mad Catz has taken a new approach, however. Like most gaming mice, it includes numerous buttons and a great sensor, but unlike any other mouse available, the Cyborg R.A.T 7’s physical dimensions can be customized. The thumb guard, palm rest, and height can be adjusted to provide your hand with the perfect fit. The mouse also ships with optional components that can be switched out to provide the mouse with a dramatically different feel.
Games designed for the PC are usually meant for use with a keyboard mouse. While this works well enough in most situations,keyboards are not always the best tool for gaming. Certain games, like MMOs and some strategy games, require a user to remember a lot of different keys scattered across the keyboard surface. This can force gamers into the nasty habit of hunting-and-pecking.
The solution is the gameboard, a PC gaming accessory that emulates a keyboard but places the keys closer together and provides a more comfortable surface for furious gaming. Gameboards usually have between 20 and 30 programmable keys, a thumb-stock, and support for macros. The Logitech G13, Razer Nostromo and Belkin N52TE are the three best examples currently available. The Logitech G13 is arguably the best of the three, and it can be purchased only for just under $70.
TrackIR 5 Head Tracker
Using your body as a controller is a familiar idea among consoles now, as all three now provide motion control options. The technology is less common in PC gaming, but that doesn’t mean it is non-existent, as the TrackIR 5 proves.
The TrackIR 5 is nothing more than a sensor that tracks your head movement and uses it to provide input for games. That may sound rather boring, if you just want to play Left4Dead, it is. As the device’s website indicates, the TrackIR 5 is built with hardcore flight sim players in mind. Some flight sim games provide full support for technology such as this, making it possible to look around the cockpit of a virtual fighter or spot an enemy fighter trying to sneak in around your flanks.
You’ll have to pay $150 to score a TrackIR 5. That’s a bit steep, but there aren’t any comparable products available elsewhere.
Peregrine Gaming Glove
Gamers have been wanting to control games with their hands for decades. The concept suggests a degree of realism that borders on virtual reality. Attempts to make the dream real, however, have usually failed. Remember the Nintendo Power Glove?
The latest product to put gaming at your fingertips in the Peregrine Gaming Glove, which came to market this fall. The gaming glove has a number of wires inside along with conductive pads on the fingerprints and other parts of the hand. When two pads come in contact, a certain command is triggered. For example, you could bind an attack in your favorite MMO to the connection made when your thumb and index finger touch.
Personally, I think the practicality of this concept has yet to be proven, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t cool. The $140 price tag may cause many gamers to scoff, however.
OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the main event. The ability to place games with your mind!
No, this isn’t a joke. The OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA for short) actually fits around your head. Once you fit it, you must go through a calibration process that tailors the device to your head and also teaches you to use it. After calibration, you’ll be able to use the NIA to control games using subtle face movements. It’s not exactly reading your mind, but instead reacting to the subtle electrical impulses used to control your muscles.
To be clear, the NIA is very much a gadget. It takes a lot of practice to use properly, and even after a few weeks it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to play games with the precision of a keyboard and mouse combo.The NIA is only $99, however. The question is this; are you nerd enough to play games with a neural interface actuator strapped to your head?
I scoured the Internet to find the most unusual gaming PC accessories possible, but I’m sure I missed a few. Please leave a comment if you know of a strange peripheral that isn’t listed here!