‘Impulse’ controller reads your muscle signals to click before your fingers move

In Michael Lewis’ excellent nonfiction book Flash Boys, about the world of high-frequency trading, millisecond advantages translate into millions of dollars. Not quite as much money is at stake in the world of competitive online gaming, but as anyone who has even played a casual game of Fortnite will know, gaming rewards reaction times. The faster, the better.

To help with this, a Canadian startup called Brink Bionics has developed a device called the Impulse Neuro-Controller, which can, it claims, detect mouse clicks before your finger has even clicked the button in question.

It does this via a fingerless, sensor-sporting glove that’s reminiscent of the iconic Nintendo Power Glove from the 1980s. It can reportedly pick up on the electrical signals sent by a person’s muscles as they start to contract at the advent of a mouse click. This information is then processed by special software and interpreted by your gaming rig as a click. In doing so, it can save a reported 80 milliseconds of clicking time.

“This is the first time that the human nervous system has been leveraged to optimize performance for gaming and e-sports in real time,” creator Erik Lloyd told Digital Trends. “It’s the first step toward futures portrayed in games like Deus Ex or Cyberpunk, where you can walk into a store and purchase technologies that can optimize your natural abilities through neural interfaces.”

Brink Bionics device
Brink Bionics

Lloyd said that Impulse changes the way peripherals operate, transforming them from reactive devices that respond to mechanical movements to proactive ones that respond to intentions. He likened the gaming advantage as being equivalent to jumping from a 30 frames-per-second (fps) monitor to a 60 fps one.

For those interested in getting their hands on Impulse, there’s an Indiegogo campaign that lets people pledge their cash to secure a unit. While there was a Kickstarter campaign late last year, Lloyd said they set up the Indiegogo for “anyone who missed our initial campaign.” The units are advertised at $177 Canadian dollars, approximately $140 U.S.

As with any crowdfunding campaign, you’ll want to be aware of the risks inherent ahead of ordering. But, if you do, shipping is estimated to take place in May 2021.

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