Researchers from Wakayama Prefecture have created a computer mouse that is operable through one’s breath, perhaps negating it from being called a computer “mouse” at all. This new invention will allow physically impaired users to operate a computer and move the cursor without using their hands.
Ichiro Kitayama, associate professor at Kinki University, specializing in assistive device technology under the Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology, and Hideo Nakagawa, associate professor of mechatronics and robotics studied under the same faculty, developed the technology as they have been doing research on dog-like robot services for severely disabled people through a breathing-operated switch. They then decided to adapt the same technology to be used on a computer.
The new computer mouse measures the user’s breath through a sensor and translates the pattern information to the computer. It also lets the user move the mouse cursor horizontally and vertically, depending on the length and volume of the breath and allows users to enter special characters. Right and left-click, double clicking, and entering kanji characters are also some other functions the device can handle.
A test model presented on the meeting of Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe in Portugal amazed the attendees. It was based on breaths of about 0.2 liter per minute, but can be adjusted depending on the user’s physical capability. More testing will be done on patients with other injuries, such as cerebral stroke and cervical spine injury, before marketing the actual product to the public in the coming years.