SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point Review: A Quality Product for Accessible Gaming

Product Name:SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point Hands Free Mouse
Brand:Natural Point
Platform:PC
Features:Sleek aluminum case, with innovative mounting options including 1/4-20 thread mounts for standard tripods. With built-in Dwell Clicking Software and a free On-screen Keyboard created by Lake Software. Switch input and a Y break-out cable allows for separate left and right clicking switches.
Rating:
Buy the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point Now!

Product Overview

Growing up as a gamer (particularly when I was very much into PC gaming), I was immensely curious about the different types of peripherals that would innovate from cursor control. One peripheral in particular happened to be the hands-free mouse. Fast forward to now where accessibility is a huge consideration in terms of technology, and hands free cursor control becomes a great benefit not just for daily computer operations (such as internet surfing or office applications), but even in the field of gaming.

This is where the SmartNav 4: AT comes in, and I’d like to tell you all about this great product.

How it works

The SmartNav 4: AT connects to your computer via USB and is clipped onto the top of the monitor. Infrared light is projected from the device, where point of reference is returned by a reflector. This information is filtered within a 45-degree field of view, which encompasses the full motion of the user’s head movements across the device and monitor, along with the reflector’s position within that area. The reflector itself (which comes as a reflective dot with an adhesive backing) can be positioned at the center of the user’s forehead or parts of the user’s headgear (hat, headset, mic head).

Once the device (and software) is set up, the user can calibrate the cursor position and movement through the software settings. Included in this setting is the ability to configure clicking of the mouse buttons – the user can either remap hotkeys on the keyboard, dwell-clicking (looking at a specific position for a small amount of time) or ability switches, which allows for 2 additional hand or foot switches to be used (this is the more popular choice for gaming)

The result is a cursor control that is highly configurable and fun to use. In fact, this can be used in first-person shooters, real-time strategies, casual and sport games, and many more (for as long as the mouse handles the primary source of controls). In fact, as a demonstration of the SmartNav 4: AT being used for gaming with physical disability, check out this video (credit to Chester Haines and NaturalPoint for this demo):

 

 

 

Pricey compared to other head trackers for gaming? smartnav-4-at-natural-point-review-side-view

Now it can be argued that there are other head tracking devices are more suited for gaming, not to mention they are on the market at half the price (such as the TrackIR 5, also a product from Natural Smart). But the greater value that comes with this product is the accessibility that it provides to people with physical impairments.

As with the product name, “AT” refers to “Assistive Technology”. Not only does it take over cursor control completely using head movements, but it also supports integrates voice commands for different functions (such as typing through the software’s virtual keyboard). Finally, the Y Breakout Cable that comes in the box has enough flexibility to be used with different kinds of switches – with the right connections of switches, the user can completely emulate the mouse’s functions. The result is hands-free gaming that caters to everyone, especially gamers whose physical dispositions prevent them from using a mouse in normal means.

 

 

SmartNav 4: AT’s awesome value

smartnav-4-at-natural-point-review-priceThe SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point comes with the device, 26 reflective dots, 6-feet of high quality USB cable, a Y Breakout Cable, a Quick Start Guide, the software installation CD, quick start guide, and an electronic manual. It should be noted that the product is not compatible on a Mac, which may not be so bad since most of the games you’d be using this for is on PC. First time calibration may take some time, but once it’s all set up, hands-free control makes it so convenient. Finally, the device has some difficulty when there is a strong light source behind the reflector, which causes some fidgety movements on screen. To circumvent this, it is best to operate the product with lowered lighting in front of the computer.

This is an amazing product, and I highly recommend that you get your own SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point. For the most convenience, shopping online through Amazon is the best way to go for this product because of the great deals that you can get. Also, if you have any comments and feedback on this product, let me know through the comments section.

 

Buy the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point Now!

16 Comments

  • Sheila says:

    Hi,
    This a really informative review of the SmartNav 4:AT controller. Technology has come so far and so user friendly. I love that this also makes a good tool for people with disabilities to type from speech and be completly hands free. My only issue is the price. Is the product durable? What is the material that it’s made from? Thanks for your help with this info.

    • Raphy says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for your feedback! Yes the SmartNav 4:AT is definitely a great tool for people with disabilities because of the many features, and not to mention that the after-sale support from Natural Point is excellent – they provide great accessories to go with the SmartNav, like switches and reflective rings for your fingers (which puts the cursor movement on your fingers as you move them above they keyboard, pretty nifty).

      My thoughts on the pricing – yes, admittedly it is pricey especially compared to other computer mice out there (you could probably get a programmable gaming mouse for the same price or less). Compared to accessibility-based computer mice like an Ablenet 12060100 TrackerPro or the ChesterMouseTM One (which is a single button optical mouse), the SmartNav 4 is a great solution with similar features that is augmented by product accessories that suit different accessibility needs – not all disabled people have the same needs when it comes to computing, so having different options and product support can still save you money compared to the Ablenet’s price point.

      Compared to other tracking sensors built for computers that are housed in high-grade plastic, the SmartNav 4:AT device is built and encased in sleek aluminum, which makes it very durable and lightweight, too. Plus, the different mounting options that come with the device ensure a snug clamping to the monitor, so you don’t need to worry about it falling off and breaking.

      Hope that helps!

      Raphy

  • Roger says:

    This head tracking device looks awesome. This type of technology didn’t exist when I was young.

    I am impressed with its ability to assist those with physical dispositions.

    I am not really into first person shooter games. So I am wondering what other types of games can a gamer play with this particular head tracking device?

  • Tony says:

    Wow! Talk about the future in gaming controllers. I see that there is a very accurate motion sensor on this. I like that you have brought all the information together nicely. I would enjoy giving this a try and I know many friends that would do the same. Also i see that you have taken the time and found the best price for this. Thank you and I will be looking forward to trying this out.
    -Tony

    • Raphy says:

      Hi Tony,

      I’m glad you liked my review! Indeed, the sensor on the SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point is quite accurate, which makes it a pretty convincing piece to purchase.. It takes a while to get used to, but nothing a little fine tuning through the device’s driver settings can’t fix. It also helps that there are separate accessories like additional reflective dots that you can use – for instance, place the reflective dot in your ring finger and you can use hand movements to move your “mouse cursor” on the screen. Couple that with some finger switches and you’ve turned yourself into Tom Cruise from Minority Report!

      Let me know how things go when you try out the product!

  • Dmitriy says:

    Hey Raphy,

    This is truly amazing and an instant WANT for me 🙂

    And it is so wonderful that people with physical disabilities can experience things with the help of technology, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible for them.

    Watching the video I can say that it looks so natural and convenient to use. I like FPS games, but I’ve never been too good at them. I was wondering if Smartnav can actually make me better at them?

    • Raphy says:

      Hi Dmitriy,

      I couldn’t agree more, it’s definitely upworthy material right there. It always warms my heart when I get to see accessible technology like the SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point improving the computing/gaming experience, most especially for those with physical disabilities.

      When it comes to helping your get better at playing FPS games, I would say it does make looking and aiming easier and more precise because it’s attuned to your head movements – you’re using your head and neck to tilt, turn and rotate your view in-game, which almost feels like you’re looking/aiming in the game yourself and not by approximations from the mouse. This will also free up your right hand to be positioned where you feel it will be easier to do fire and zoom commands.

      Although to really fine-tune your FPS experience, I would suggest really taking time to calibrate the SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point’s cursor movement – you want to make sure it’s sensitivity feels exact and won’t force you to overextend your movements in order to aim at the right place. But once you do get the calibration down pat, I’m pretty sure that you will enjoy using the SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point!

  • Justin says:

    This is a cool piece of technology! I hadn’t realized that devices like these were on the market already. It does seem pretty expensive, but so are all new technologies. I was a bit skeptical about the ease of use, but it seems to be working pretty well for the person in the video. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to try one of these in the near future because it looks awesome!

    • Raphy says:

      Yeah, a lot of people seem to be concerned about the pricepoint – I think we’ve all been programmed to want something more cost-friendly for computing mice, but the important thing about the SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point is that it was built for people with disabilities so they can do their computing and gaming the way we do; that alone makes it a unique and viable product for its price.

      I really love the uses that it gets from the games shown in the video as well – it really conforms to game configurations nicely, and it’s not intrusive at all. It’s definitely a product that disabled gamers can use and enjoy.

  • Paul says:

    Raphy,

    Great review of the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point hands-free mouse. As someone who’s not physically impaired, I honestly don’t think this would be my type of thing — I have used handheld mice my whole life. Still though, I can imagine that a device such as this would be invaluable for certain people who need it to be able to operate a computer. I do know one person who’d appreciate something like this, and I’ll be sure to send them over. Thanks.

  • Riaz Shah says:

    Hey Raphy,

    Wow SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point sounds pretty cool! I like the fact that its meant for the disabled, I never knew there even was something like this.

    My cousin loves games but after his accident, he stopped playing and he became very moody. Gaming is a huge part of his life and I feel bad for him, the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point would definitely give him hope.

    Definitely getting this for new year and speaking of which, wishing you a very happy new year man! Counting down 😀

    • Raphy says:

      Accessible gaming/computing products are not usually the focal point of the average tech consumer’s scope of interest as they are not the primary market.

      What is interesting, though, is how the scope of interest changes for circumstances such as what happened to your cousin (sorry to hear about his predicament), and when a certain lifestyle, gaming in this case, gets compromised because of reasons, it opens up a window of opportunity for the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point as a great choice in augmenting PC gaming needs to compensate for their disabilities.

      Hope he enjoys the product and Happy New Year as well!

  • Dredd De Jesus says:

    It’s interesting how this already existed 8 years ago. To me, it feels as if the device was more aimed to cater PWDs. Nevertheless, I can see how it can be used for some gaming. I just can’t imagine though that if you used this all the time for gaming, you’re head will be twitching all the time from moving the “mouse”.

    • Raphy says:

      Hit the nail on the head here! It really is a product created for users with disabilities primarily for computing purposes. And well, playing games on a PC is a function in computing, so it definitely works out, lol!

      The SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point does come with an installer that allows you to fine tune the cursor’s sensitivity so that you can manage the range of movement. It’s helpful if the PWD has limited head movement to begin with – they can lower the sensitivity level so that they won’t have to strain their neck too much.

      For an 8-year old product with multiple features and accessories, I definitely think the SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point is a viable option worth buying to provide PWDs with a gaming experience they deserve.

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