We are always interested in checking what new hardware can bring to the VR experience and the Looxid Link really got our interest for this reason. The team at Looxid Labs are using EEG (electroencephalogram) technology to do this, allowing you to use your brain to manipulate things in VR. After testing out the technology what did we think?
Whats in the box
Inside of the box you get a Link Hub, a USB-C to Micro-USB cable, a plastic mount to connect the Link Hub to your Head Mounted Display (HMD) and a face gasket with the EEG sensors on to replace you current face gasket.
You may think with this sort of technology it’s could have a lengthy installation process, but the assembly of the product only took me around six to seven minutes to have in place on my HMD.
- You will need to remove the current face gasket and place the USB-C end of the cable into the port behind the gasket frame.
- Attach the mount, to do this you just need to move the front of the HMD as far out as it goes using the adjustment button, slide in the mount and then you can move it back to your desired position.
- Next you need to place on the provided face gasket with the sensors on, this is just like placing any face gasket on, and just making sure it all lined up properly. However, first you want to pass through the magnetic charger on the face gasket in the gap at the top of the HMD.
- Connect the magnetic charger on the face gasket to the port on the Link Hub and connect the Link Hub to mount installed in step 2.
- The final part is attaching the Micro-USB to the port on the side of the Link Hub, and everything is in place.
If you want to make sure it is all connected properly, you need to power on your HMD and turn on the power switch on the side of the Link Hub, if everything is connected correctly you will see a green light.
After this is all in place, you will then need to install the Link Core software on your PC, this is very quick installation. All you need to do is head over the Store on their website, add the free Looxid Link Core Application to your basket, and check out (while you are doing this you can also add the Demos at the same time).
The Looxid Link
The build quality of the Link Hub is great, they’ve used a high quality plastic on the mould and it is all fit together nicely. One thing we were worried about when first learning of the product was would the Link Hub have some weight to it that might cause issues with comfort and weight distribution, but even from picking up the box with everything in it we could see how light weight it actually was.
The face gasket fabric is made out of polycarbonate, knit fabric and polyurethane sponge, which is attached to more quality plastic with Velcro on for the face gasket frame on the Vive Pro. The fabric and sponge used makes it all very comfortable on your face while in use and feels very similar to the foam mounted at the back of the HTC Vive Pro for the extra comfort for the HMD.
Attached to the gasket you have 6 EEG channels, which are monitored by dry electrodes on flexible PCB. This was another thing that had us worried on first seeing the product, with thinking would these electrodes be comfortable against your head when in use. But, after hours of use with the product we have not felt any discomfort from them or even had any moments when it was obvious they were even on the face gasket.
So, when it comes the product itself we have no issues with the quality of the build, and any of my main worries about the device were soon answered in a positive manner.
Testing The Product
Firstly before jumping into the applications outside of the 2D and 3D visualizers we would recommend going into one of these – we would recommend the 3D visualizer as it uses the VR space to full effect. The reason we suggest this is you need to make sure there is very minimal noise on the EEG sensors, for the technology to provide the best performance possible. If you find these readings are high, as I did when first going into it, there is simple steps you can take that should improve these. These are as follows;
- Wipe down your head and sensors – as any particles or dirt can cause issues with the sensor readings
- Make sure the placement of the face gasket and the HMD is straight and not on an angle of any sort.
Trying these massively reduced the noise on our first reading, which was popping up a message saying Noise Detected on Sensors. After we got everything correct (which can take a little bit of testing), we only found we got the Noise Detected message when speaking and using the product, this was due to forehead movement as you speak.
After this we jumped into the three applications available for the Looxid Link from the Looxid Labs website, which uses the technology to show how it could be utilized for the medium.
First we would recommend going into VR Mind Care, which teaches you meditation techniques through breathing and relaxing. The EEG technology is used in the application by reading your performance in each stage of the five-minute exercise, giving you a reading of either Balanced or Unbalanced. Over our time testing this we have been visiting this application daily to get that five-minute relaxation session though meditation and are seeing improvements in our performance and readings. The reason we would recommend this first out of the applications is because it gives you a good understanding of how the sensors and product works for the two more interactive applications.
We then have two applications that will allow you manipulate things using your mind, these come in the form of Interaction Playground and our favourite Mind Master: Pyrokenisis.
In Interaction playground you are going to be using your attention and relaxation to manipulate blocks in the application. These are placed in front of you or all around you if you move in the environment by teleporting. Then the more attention you pay the higher these blocks will float up to the ceiling, like your mind has turned off the gravity in the room, then if you relax the blocks will fall to the floor. So, this shows the sensors using your brain readings to determine how much attention you are paying.
Then Mind Master: Pyrokenisis is a mini game, in which you get to fight a dragon with fireballs in VR. In this application it is again all about paying attention to the fireball, as the more attention you pay the bigger the fireball will get and the more damage it will deal to the dragon. You will then use your controller to grab the fireball, aim with you HMD and then throw the fireball with a throwing motion. On the screen you will see HUD showing the dragons health, and your health – which is three hearts. You will lose a heart if you let the dragons fireball it breathes hit you, this is dodged by moving in your playspace. With it providing a top ten leaderboard at the end, allowing you to challenge friends or family to set new scores.
These are the applications that have currently been made available by the team at Looxid Labs, and outside of the initial testing to get the noise down on the sensors, we have not had any performance issues with the device. We are now looking forward to seeing what more the team at Looxid Labs and other developers might do with this technology. But, as more lands we will be certain to check them out and offer our views on the applications – you can find overviews of the current applications on our YouTube channel.
Also if have some interest in and the knowledge of Unity and want to start making applications for the Looxid Link, they do have a Unity SDK available on github.
With the sort of technology being used in the Looxid Link, as you would expect it comes at a cost, although for what the product is doing and the tech involved we do not think it’s badly priced as a product. But, it could be a big outlay for many VR consumers to shell out at once coming in at $299.
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a sample provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of review sample does not affect my judgement of the product.