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October 04, 2004

Tech

Beating the mouse by a nose

DEREK CHEZZI

Satellites and Tang aren't the only innovations the space race has brought us. Ottawa scientist Dmitry Gorodnichy's work on the Canadarm project was instrumental in the development of the Nouse -- a hands-free alternative to the computer mouse that aims to help people with physical disabilities or pain brought on by excessive computer use.


 

The nose-steered mouse uses inexpensive webcam technology along with Gorodnichy's software, developed at the Institute for Information Technology, to track the movement of a person's nose, which then controls the cursor on a computer monitor. Blinking emulates left and right button clicks on a traditional mouse and turns the Nouse on and off. The 33-year-old Kiev, Ukraine, native says he began thinking about a solution to the current offering of ineffective keyboard and mouse alternatives while building software tools to help astronauts operate the Canadarm. People with limited upper body mobility are a good fit for the Nouse, but the inventor believes it will have broad appeal, especially among computer users suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. He says many interested companies have come knocking and hopes that, one day, the Nouse will come standard with new computers. Now, whether you'll actually want to spend your work day wiggling your nose and blinking your eyes is a different story.




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