Gaming mice have come a long way these days, but lighter weights and honeycomb chassis don’t have anything on the real next frontier: clicking with your mind.
That’s effectively what’s been proposed by Brink Bionics, makers of the Impulse Neuro Controller for PC Gaming. The device is pitched as a way to improve the speed of your reactions in games by removing the latency between physically clicking a button, the computer registering that click, and the outcome being rendered on the screen.
According to the official Indiegogo page — which has already been successful — the controller works with your existing gaming setup. Rather than giving you a replacement peripheral for the mouse, the Impulse controller acts more like a glove that picks up the electrical signals from your nervous system. The creators reckon you can shave off around 80 milliseconds when fully comfortable with the Impulse controller. That’s not a small factor. For instance, you only have about 200 milliseconds to snipe a moving target running across the mid doors on Counter-Strike‘s Dust 2.
The official FAQ, however, is pretty clear on what Impulse isn’t. It’s not an aimbot — you still have to physically aim the mouse yourself. What it optimises is the time from an individual click:
Impulse does not help you to increase clicking frequency (clicks per second). It OPTIMISES the time delay for each click. But does not reduce the time between two consecutive clicks.
It also doesn’t improve the latency between multiple clicks (think RTS games like StarCraft). The creators also warn that the Impulse software requires some training to get used to your body’s inputs, which basically means a few sessions of just repeatedly clicking a mouse over and over so the controller can pick up on when you’re trying to click.
The technology is principally based in the same kind of tech behind prosthetic limbs, picking up on the electrical impulses from your body. This is the first time I’ve seen it redeployed in an esports context, and it makes me wonder what this could mean from an accessibility standpoint.
It’s the kind of weird, wild controller that I want to try just for the sake of it. It probably would have been viewable at CES 2021, but with the show going all virtual, hands-on demos with projects like this are something that unfortunately everyone misses out on.
Still, the Impulse controllers are due out soon. The first batch will reportedly go out from May. and there’s nothing I can see that would stop this from being shipped to Australia. I’ll try and get my hands on one just to let you know what it’s like — while I can’t see anyone seriously replacing their mouse or retooling their setup for neural-powered headshots, I love that someone’s trying.