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    NaturalPoint TrackIR
    Author: Chris Oh
    Date Posted: April 25th, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 7/10
    Bottom Line: If youíre into cool toys that have functionality, give this a try but donít rely on it outside of simple tasks, such as deathmatches.

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    Pages: 1 2 3 4
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    Introduction

    Didnít you ever wish that you could just sit back and browse the web like itís made to be done? Didnít you just want to lie back and make your eyes do the talking and clicking for you? Well then, if youíre like me, you will be looking for everything possible to make your time on the computer and on the internet, much more efficient and easier. As an American, I like doing things the easiest way possible. People have dreamed for a long time for something to make using the computer easier. When the mouse came along, that was a godsend and people were gracing it as the ultimate usability tool for the computer but now that weíve progressed through high stages of computing, the mouse has remained relatively the same except for some laser technology. In comes the NaturalPoint TrackIR, which is a tool which supplements "not replaces" your mouse with something much better... your forehead. The concept is so simple that itís almost a crime to market and sell it off when most of us has been dreaming of things like this for years but to give credit where credit is due, NaturalPoint took it upon themselves to actually take the time to developing something like this and market it.

    Hereís how it works, the TrackIR has 2 basic parts that make it work. The first is a camera that mounts on the top of your computer and second part is silver dots which you stick on your forehead, hat, etcÖ that catch the attention of the camera so that the cursor moves along to the movements your head makes. The dots have a cloth backing so you can stick it and remove it many times. The camera is sensitive enough to detect the silver dots and it will only detect those dots and calculate how it moves and translate it to cursor movements. So when the dots are on your head and you move your head left, the camera sees the dot moving to the left and therefore the cursor moves left. Actually, this isnít really a camera because all it can basically make out from everything else is the silver dots; it will not do anything like take pictures of your friends or of the city. The camera sends out infrared signals and the silver dots bounce the signals back to the TrackIR. The camera is connected to the desktop or laptop through USB. The cable is pretty short (good for laptops) and therefore it comes with a 4 foot long USB cable extension. Also, it has extra rubber pads for use with laptops. A good feature of this is that the device is powered by the USB port and therefore doesnít require any external power.

    The device comes in three flavors: the "standard" which has the camera, cord, software, and the dots...the "EG" (ergonomics) which has a clear case camera, two finger rings, and a breakout cable, this is meant to fully replace your mouseÖ and finally, the ďATĒ (assisted technology) model which helps out disabled people with special software. What I will be reviewing today will be the standard model.

    Installation

    When getting ready to install the device, you will see many, many notices in the packaging telling you to install the software before installing the hardware and this is a very important factor in getting this to work properly. I wouldíve gone and tested what would happen if I installed the hardware first but I donít think that I would like to have taken that risk. After installing the software, you will need to reboot, then connect the hardware to the computer. The camera was meant to sit on a monitor or something pretty high up and level to your head or wherever you wish to place the dots. The camera has a metal base which can be bent to stabilize itself on any surface: monitor edges, desk edges, etc...The camera has a roughly 25 degree field of view which is quite adequate because it will most likely be positioned in front of you. Installation was fairly simple and straightforward, just like many USB webcams and devices. Of course here comes the tricky part or so it seemed: the software.

    System Specs

    AMD Athlon 1.2GHz
    Soyo Dragon +
    256MB Crucial PC2100DDR
    MSI GeForce2 Pro
    Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
    Maxtor D740X 60GB Hard Drive
    Plextor 12/10/32A IDE CD-RW
    Pioneer 16X DVD-ROM
    Microsoft WindowsXP
    Software Go the the next page
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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction/Installation
    2. Software
    3. Common Usage
    4. Pros & Cons/Conclusion

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