We have smartphones, wristbands, and of course, smartwatches that are able to read your heart rate. But how about a mouse? Mionix Naos QG, a gaming mouse developed in collaboration with Kickstarter and the Twitch community, is fitted with a Pixart PAH8001E1-2G heart rate sensor, as well as a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensor to measure a player’s emotional state while playing video games. But how does that benefit you as a gamer? Let’s dig deeper into the company’s bold new gaming peripheral.
The Naos QG sports a nearly identical form factor to Mionix’s other range of Naos gaming mice. It’s got the same wide area that holds all five fingers and has a slanted mid-belly that should support all kinds of grip styles. The shape was odd at first for me having only used regular-sized mice before, but after two-three hours of continuous use the mouse felt comfortable and fitted well with my natural grip style.
The only difference in the design are the two sensors flanking the Mionix logo near the bottom of the device. The left one reads your heart rate, while the two little steel blocks is the Galvanic Skin Response sensor, which measures the state of sweat glands present in the skin. So if you are nervous, angry, or happy, the sweat gland activity increases, allowing you to see exactly when and what brought those changes. Now, depending on your grip style, making contact with the GSR should be relatively easy, however maintaining contact with the heart rate sensor could prove to be tricky. It’s entirely possible that you won’t be able to touch the sensor at all depending on where your thumb and the thenar (fleshy part of the palm) lands on. Fortunately, I did not face such an issue or we would have some serious problem for this review.
The only problem I do have with the heart rate sensor is that it emits a sharp, piercing green laser whenever it loses contact with the skin, which reflects directly into my eyes because of where the sensor is placed. So whenever I remove my hand from the mouse, it blinds me with a flash of light and that can get annoying real quick if you want to use the keyboard while browsing with the mouse. This is further amplified if you prefer to game in the dark.
Other than its biometric fittings, the Naos QG is a fairly capable gaming mouse as well. It houses OMRON and TTC switches which should ensure great longevity, and sports a top of the range 12,000 DPI Pixart PMW3360 optical sensor. Unlike the other Naos mice, the QG features an advanced four-layer rubberized body which feels super smooth and provides a confident grip even during the most intense gaming sessions.
Software & Performance
The Mionix Hub software is the meat and potatoes of the Naos QG as it’s the central location where you’ll find all of the statistics from the sensors. It’s brightly colored and intuitively laid out, although it is a bit clunky as the product is still under development.
The Quantified Gaming tab on the software presents you with detailed information about the number of clicks, hours used, distanced moved and scrolled, as well as your current heart rate, GSR, and the speed at which you are moving the mouse. The Statistics tab takes all of this information and presents it in a nice graph over a timeline of an hour (at the time of writing, the statistics tab stopped working – it simply refuses to load a session – hence why don’t have it in screenshot in the gallery above). You can have all of the information relayed to you in real time with the help of an additional software called Overwolf, which adds a transparent overlay to all apps and games on Windows. I am not a fan of running multiple softwares to run a single product, so I wish Mionix had sought out a better way to implement this. However, Overwolf isn’t a terrible software in itself. It is an entire app store that houses overlay apps for hundreds of games, and at the least, it runs light on resources so having it run in the background isn’t exactly a deal breaker.
So, what do I do with knowing my heart rate and Galvanic Skin Response? Honestly, I have no idea. Yes, my heart beats faster when I play a competitive match or a horror game, but that’s general knowledge. Why do I need a software to tell me this? As such, the nicely colored statistics that the Naos QG provides me with is completely useless, and I believe most gamers will find little use of it as well. Biometrics are still a relatively new field in the gaming industry, since it has a niche audience and only a handful of developers actually make use of the science to provide better gaming experiences. For them, yes, the mouse could be a handy tool to study how gamers respond to their games but for an average Joe like me, the Naos QG’s features are entirely lost upon. Also, I am not sure if the measurements are accurate. My heart rate fluctuates between 60-80bpm regularly even though I am barely moving in my seat, and sometimes it dips to 40bmp which is usually reserved for athletes with an efficient heart – and let me tell you, I am no athlete.
But it’s commendable that Mionix has tried to push more innovation in a quickly stagnating product market. We have tons of gaming mice that do just about the same thing, and it’s been like that for several decades. Biometrics has serious potential to change how we ‘experience’ games where developers could tailor games specifically based on our bodily responses. But the technology is still new and relatively unexplored and it will need to gain mainstream interest for it be to regularly implemented. But as of right now, there is very little use for it.
Coming back to the Mionix Hub, it also has traditional options including reprogrammable keys, ability to add DPI steps, customize polling rate and angle tuning as well as change colors on the mousewheel and the logo. The software also has a Macros tab, but at the time of writing, it wasn’t available.
In terms of performance, the Pixart PMW3360 sensor was able to create nearly flawless tracking providing pin-point accuracy in games. I put in a number of hours in Overwatch and Titanfall 2 with the mouse, and the Naos QG was comfortable and jitter-free even in the most frantic moments. The sensor also tracks well across many surfaces – it worked well on my textured cloth-based mouse pad, as well as on my wooden table, jeans, and sheet of paper.
Even though the Mionix Naos QG is an extremely competent gaming mouse, it’s really hard to recommend it unless you have specific use of its heart rate and GSR sensors. It’s pricey at approx AED 507, and you are better off saving money and putting it in the equally capable Mionix Naos 7000 which costs approx AED 275 and has all of the features of QG, sans the biometric sensors.