When it comes to computer-input devices, most people think of a mouse. For users with fine-motor challenges, there are mice of ergonomic design. Or there are paddles and joy sticks. Then, there are hands-free mice for persons with no or limited hand or arm movement. Previously, we talked about one such design, the SCATIR switch, with which computer users with severe physical disabilities can control input with the blink of an eye or a facial twitch. This week, we discuss another hands-free computer-input device, one that involves a small reflective dot placed on the forehead or a pair of glasses, with which the user elicits mouse control. We present the SmartNav mouse, by NaturalPoint. A sensor placed on the computer screen detects the movement of the reflective dot. (The system is reminiscent of eye-gaze input devices, such as the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C, as used by our client Tess L.)
With SmartNav, the user needs to move his or her head less than a quarter inch to maneuver the cursor easily across the screen. Clicking options include hotkeys (which can be remapped to simulate various mouse buttons). Dwell-clicking software allows the user to emulate a click by hovering over a spot (similar to the system used on the Wii console). Useful for some users is the ability to plug in additional hand or foot switches. Cursor speed is now 100 frames per second. The high-resolution imager allows for precise pointing in a variety of lighting conditions. Versions of SmartNav are available for Windows and MAC OS X.
Persons with physical disability in New Jersey can arrange for a free “test drive” of SmartNav at home, free of charge, through our Technology Lending Center.
SmartNav hands-free input device