I am sure you have heard of animatronic cat ears – but what about brain wave controlled cat ears? NeuroSky’s Necomimi Brain Wave Cat Ears is a unique piece of headwear that follows the patterns of your brain activity. While the device is heavily marketed towards cosplayers, you do not need to be a cosplay connoisseur to enjoy them. Skeptics may likely say that the device and its movements are a gimmick. Wanna see them in action and judge for yourself? Feel free to watch the video below or continue reading my thoughts.
Getting started with the Necomimi isn’t the least bit tricky. All that the process entails is installing four AAA batteries, clipping your left ear, and letting the Necomimi calibrate. Calibration takes around thirty seconds or less and mine often were ready to go instantly. My only gripe about this process is the fact that it is incredibly cumbersome to open the battery compartment with a little penny (seriously, that’s what the manual recommends).
Can You Make Your Ears Wiggle?
Necomimi comes with a set of movements that are meant to represent different states of brain activity. The various states programmed on the device are focus/relaxation, high focus, high relaxation, and high interest. Each involves different tricks to trigger them. Even when attempting to do nothing, I didn’t trigger an accidental pattern. I managed to trigger the ones I desired on command consistently (with the exception of one). I will outline what I noticed below.
This is the easiest state to fall into while using the Necomimi and is shown when the ears gently twitch up and down. I tended to hover around this state during calmer conversation or less strenuous activities.
High Focus takes a bit more time to master on command and is demonstrated by when the ears suddenly jolt up. NeuroSky’s guide materials recommend focusing on an object but I have not found this reliable enough. I tended to have the most success when I repeated a word in my mind. By combining their recommendation with my own trick, I had a delay time of five seconds before the Necomimi finally picked up the High Foccus state.
This state naturally is a hard one not only for me but for many people to achieve. Clearing one’s mind completely is not as easy as it sounds. What I tried to do was close my eyes and act as if I was ready to take a nap. This would briefly provide me with the slowly drooping down movement but the ears would not remain that way for long. After enough practice, I managed to get the ears to remain down for much longer periods of time.
High Interest turned out to be the most elusive state. This state shows off one of Necomimi’s most iconic movements which is the signature side to side wiggle you see in the commercials. The only clue given by the instructional videos online is that you need to be in an “in the zone”-like state in which you are simultaneously calm and focused. I would like more guidance from the manufacturer as it feels very difficult to find an activity (such as writing or drawing) that reliably triggers the movement. It occurred with me completely by accident and usually while I was trying to engage the High Focus state. This was the only state that failed the on-demand tests.
What’s Wrong with the Necomimi?
The Necomimi runs without hiccups but there are three factors that bother me about the device. The first issue is that the fit is a bit awkward (luckily they still fit with prescription lenses on) and seems intent for people with square shaped heads. This means you might notice a bit of a gap between your left ear and your head. Thankfully it is not that noticeable and does not draw much attention. The second problem with the Necomimi is that the obtrusive brain wave sensor dominates your forehead. I was batting about ideas on how to make it more discreet and realized that creating a transparent sensor would only cause the optical illusion that you have a vein on your forehead. Lastly, the biggest personal problem I had with the Necomimi was the tight ear clip. It is not painful per se but you will feel discomfort after wearing it for long periods of time. I would really love if NeuroSky placed some cushioning on it.
I was struck by how many hours I spent playing with the Necomimi Ears. It is clear that with practice, the ears can in fact deliver on the promise of providing the type of movements you want. What makes the ears so fun is the fact that the tech actually works once you discover personal tricks to master each of the movements states. The design is also sincerely cute. NeuroSky’s Necomimi Brain Wave Cat Ears can certainly make quite a statement and could be a clever accessory to add to your next Halloween costume. All I know is, I am going to be stocking up on a few packs of rechargeable AAA batteries in the foreseeable future.