SmartNav 4: AT Natural Point Review: A Quality Product for Accessible Gaming
|Product Name:||SmartNav 4:AT Natural Point Hands Free Mouse|
|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.|
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?
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
The 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!