Right Hand Loses Job As Head-Mouse Enters Mousing Arena

Moving the cursor around your computer screen is an everyday occurrence that we humans do not give much of a second thought to. But what if you didn’t have to move your hands from the keyboard anymore? Sure there are keyboards with Track Point or even track pads not to far from the keys, which isn’t too bad. What if you could just slightly point your face in the desired direction the mouse would move? The [Sci-Spot] folks wondered that same question and came up with a DIY Head Mouse.

The concept is pretty darn simple; a web cam is mounted to the user’s head and points at the computer screen. Mounted on top of the screen is one IR LED. Our eyes can not see the IR light so it is not annoying or distracting. The camera, however, is filtered to only see IR by placing a couple of layers of camera film negative over the lens. Before you go complaining about strapping a camera to your noggin just think of building it into a hat, which we’ve seen used for adaptive technologies like this PS3 controller.

Custom software was written to move the mouse cursor; see the black window in the above dialog box? That represents the webcam’s field of view and the white spot is the IR LED. When the user’s head moves, the IR LED moves in relation to the camera’s field of view, in turn telling the computer to move the cursor a certain amount. There are a couple of options available like ‘magnification’ which changes how much the cursor moves with a given amount of head movement and ‘deadzone’ that ignores extremely small movements that can result from breathing.

There is no mention of how button clicks are recorded but we think a couple of buttons right below the space bar would be great. The control software is available for download on the Sci-Spot page for those who want to make their own.

34 thoughts on “Right Hand Loses Job As Head-Mouse Enters Mousing Arena

    1. If you want this you can have it today http://www.naturalpoint.com/smartnav/products/4-eg/. It’s the exact thing described above. It’s somewhat expensive, but contrary to the sci-spot guys claims, it has almost zero learning curve. I use it everyday for rsi prevention (my boss funded it). For those wondering about clicking I prefer to map left and right mouse button to the left and right windows keys, but there are options for foot pedals or separate button or dwell clicking.

    2. I expect that within a week you will get neckcramp lasting the rest of your life when you sit there trying to not move your head for hours to avoid moving the cursor.
      Good luck with that

  1. I had really great results with mounting the IR leds to a hat, and using an unmodified Dell integrated webcam. Some things seem like a good idea, but trust me, head tracking in Descent causes vertigo in almost everyone I let try it.

  2. Shame this wasn’t invented by a bloke called [Chris] – then it would be chris…mouse.

    I really like this as a concept, and I can see its application especially for disabled users, but I am conscious that I personally hardly move my head at all when using my PC – the entire screen is within my field of view, and I’d be worried about my head falling off if I had to wiggle it for every mouse movement. I’m waiting for pupil tracking to go main stream…

    PS. What happened to ‘the controller project’ – looks abandoned – surely this is just the sort of thing they should be picking up on.

  3. If you’re using a laptop that has a built-in camera, why not just use the light that turns on when it’s active? It might need a bit of software to do, but it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

  4. I’m a PHP developer, one of the web designers I work with often has a severe physical disability and can essentially only click one button, he uses IR head-tracking as his mouse, and a mac so there’s only one mouse-button to worry about. Never ceases to amaze me how much he gets done like this.

  5. Too bad for us continuous bifocal weareres – our head positions are already constrained by using our neck muscles to focus. So we could have left-right only, unless we have computer glasses!

  6. Aow… This have been done so many times… You have never seen people wearing Wii controller with just 2 candles in front of their screen ? Well I’ve done it a couple of times, no big deal.

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