Disclaimer: NeuroSky provided Dragonblogger.com with a pair of Necomimi Cat Ears for evaluation purposes. Opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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 headgear that responds to your brain activity. While the device is heavily marketed towards cosplayers, you do not need to be a cosplay connoisseur to enjoy them. Wanna see them in action? Feel free to watch the video below or continue reading the review to find out my thoughts.
Getting started with the Necomimi isn’t tricky at all. All you have to do is install four AAA batteries, clip your left ear, and let the Necomimi calibrate. Calibration takes around thirty seconds and mine were often ready to go in an instant. My only gripe about this process is the fact that it is incredibly cumbersome to open the battery compartment with a 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 quite 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.
Getting the ears into the High Focus state takes a bit more practice to master. You can tell you have achieved it if your ears jolt up when you want them to. NeuroSky’s guide recommends focusing on an object but I have not found this method reliable enough. I had the most success when I repeated a word in my mind. By combining their recommendation with my own trick, I started to trigger High Focus as often as I wanted and avoided accidentally triggering it when I didn’t want it.
This state 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 ear 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 the zone” – a state they explain as being 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 and leaves a gap between your head and ears. Thankfully it is not that noticeable. The second problem with the Necomimi is that the obtrusive brain wave sensor dominates your forehead. I was trying to think how they could make it more discreet. A transparent sensor would only cause the optical illusion that you have a vein on your forehead – which is probably why black is a decent color for the time being. Lastly, the biggest problem I had with the Necomimi was the tight ear clip. You will feel discomfort after wearing it for long periods of time. I would really love if NeuroSky placed some cushioning on the inside of it.
I was struck by how much I enjoyed playing with the Necomimi Ears. It is clear that with practice, the ears can deliver most of the movement states on-demand. The design is also sincerely cute. NeuroSky’s Necomimi Brain Wave Cat Ears are certainly a unique tech accessory and could be a clever piece of headgear to add to your next Halloween costume.