Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New computer mouse device for the foot is on the horizon

For people who do not have use of their hands, living in a digital environment where operating a computer is almost a must, creates quite a challenge. Of course, there are mice designed to be operated by the foot, but there is now a
wireless hardware device designed to be worn on the foot
and not as an external device.

According to the Ars Technica news article:

“The future of computing could include a foot-activated input device, according to some HP researchers in the UK. The researchers have filed a Patent for a foot-controlled user interface that is intended to be used with a wearable computing device, but may also be used with a desktop computer.

Unlike existing foot "mice," the wireless device is to be worn on the foot, not operated as an external device by the foot. This would allow a freer range of motion and presumably more natural use. It is intended to be strapped to the foot or shoe of the user and, using an accelerometer and magnetic sensor, a reference unit can calculate relative positioning of the foot to translate it on the user interface. Various foot movements could be programmed to mean specific actions, such as twisting the foot for a left or right click. Although this sounds like a sport only to be practiced while on the comfort of your own couch, the patent claims that the device could also be used while standing.”

I know of a drafting student who did not have use of his hands, yet functioned quite well with adaptive computing using his foot to operate the external mouse. I wonder if he would be able to find use of this device once it hits the market and what his thoughts would be.

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