Hands-free mouse helps disabled nose through the net

Computer users who can't move their hands are testing a device that allows them to point and click using their nose. Thirteen patients at St. Vincent Hospital in Ottawa are currently trying out the "nouse" developed by the Elizabeth Breyer Research Institute and the National Research Council as a new alternative to a regular computer mouse. Among them is Linda Baker, who was on the internet regularly until multiple sclerosis caused her to lose mobility in her arms. She hopes to get back online and reconnect with others who have the disease. "I have a rare form of the disease and it's kinda nice to talk to someone else who has the same kind — just to see what they're doing, how they're making out," said Baker, who tries hard to be independent and uses her head to operate her wheelchair.

During a test run, the nouse used a camera to detect Baker's nose and show it on the screen like a mouse pointer. As she turned her head, the "pointer" followed across the screen. Tilting her head down worked like a click of the mouse button. Occupational therapist Hilary McKee said the device will open doors for many people. "Computers are so integrated into our lives these days it's really important for people with disabilities to be able to access the computer and use it to its full advantage."

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News source: CBC News

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I can see quite the application here for not only the disabled but also the average user. Following the movement of the nose as a mouse cursor as one tracks visually across the screen could possibly be spectacularly useful. Maybe even following the movement of an eye? Whatever. This technology is pretty cool, and it's actually different from all the other 'alternative' interface devices out there.