Saturday - Oct 10, 2015

Camera Mouse

Use your own head instead of the mouse, literally

Until now we used a few things to communicate with a computer like keyboard, mouse, joystick, touch screen… However, we never used our head. Camera Mouse is an unusual program which lets us do just that. Just to be clear we are not talking about mental control but rather recognition of the head movements and its conversion to commands computers could recognize. Idea behind this is to help disabled people which couldn’t move their limbs.

There are two ways to control the computer- by voice or by head movement. Voice control is not really new, it’s been developed a decade back without any real progress up to this day. Main problem is that there are more than 200 languages and to make universal software which could do the job is pretty much impossible mission. Besides that, software for voice recognition has to learn pronunciation of each person, words have to be easy to understand and they always have to be pronounced the same way. Camera Mouse is as we know the first software which uses different approach. The idea is to monitor the head movements and based on that information position the cursor on screen. That is basically how you solve most of the problems; there is no language barrier so software can be used around the world. It is simple to use and it becomes operational after just few minutes. Did we find the perfect solution for disabled people? It seems like that but there are issues which have to be resolved. However, our conclusion is that future development of technology will advance the controls of this software compared to voice recognition which wasn’t really a success.

Basic requirement for Camera Mouse is a quality web cam which has to be placed right in front of the user for best results. Authors of this software said that not all cameras will work but they claim that most of the popular

Camera Mouse

Camera Mouse

brands are supported as all the cameras which use the standard Windows drivers. Before you start using this software there is one more thing you need to do-define the spot on your face which will be used as the reference point. You can define the spot with the mouse or by some of alternative methods like so called 5-4-3-2-1 method which marks the spot on users face manually or automatically picks the eye as default spot. Movement of cursor is dictated by left-right up-down head movement. Because it is relatively hard at the beginning to move the cursor properly you can set up sensitivity or tolerance which will help correct cursor movement. So how do we click on something? You just keep the cursor on the same spot for a certain time but since it can be hard to keep the cursor (head) on same spot, there is an option to define a radius which will tolerate the cursor movement. Just to be sure that you clicked on something you can enable the double click sound. After you get used to this way of computer control it is fairly easy to do all the normal functions. Idea is great with a humane side to it but the question is how useful is it?

Control quality depends on two factors- quality of the web camera and brightness of the room. Also, most of the software is not designed to be controlled in such a way which presents another problem. You can find some software which is designed for this kind of cursor control on company website but that is far from enough. Even though there is still a lot of room for advancements we are glad that software like this exists whose main purpose is to help disabled people use a computer.

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