Morse Keyboard Communicates With The Blink Of An Eye

Most of us use our hands to interface with computers, but the human body is capable of many types of input other than that of fingers and feet. But what about people who can’t use their extremities and don’t have a voice? For their sake, it’s time to get creative.

[Michael Paul Coder] has made a way to type simply by blinking in Morse code. Those of you with long memories may recall Lucid Scribe, where he was attempting to document lucid dreaming experiments by detecting rapid eye movements with an accelerometer and triggering his computer to play music. This would in turn notify [Michael] that he was in fact dreaming and was safe to tie a cape around his neck and take a flying leap from a tall building.

Whereas [Michael]’s creation needed a commercial EEG device before, he’s now made it work with just an old webcam thanks to the new trans-consciousness messaging protocol, which operates by using facial detection and then interpreting the amount of changed pixels between video frames. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

You know how much we love assistive technology around here — just two years ago, the Byte took top honors in The Hackaday Prize.

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The Coolest Controller Mod, Hands Down

Video games are a great way to relax, and sometimes get your heart rate up at the same time. But unless you’re playing something like Dance Dance Revolution, the controls pretty much always require the use of both hands. Even the old Atari controller benefited from using the other hand for support.

But what if you don’t have the use of both hands? Or you have a repetitive stress injury? Or you just want to eat cheese curls with chopsticks while you play? [Akaki Kuumeri] has you covered with one of the hands-down greatest uses for 3D printing we’ve seen — a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller modified for one-handed use. If this looks familiar, it may be because [Akaki] made a PS5 controller version a while back, but who can get one of those, anyway?

Though [Akaki] does most of the demonstrating in the video below with their left hand, they were cool enough to make a right-handed version as well. In the left-handed version, the symbol buttons and right trigger are actuated with the left hand, and the right joystick is used by moving the whole controller against your leg, the table, the arm of the couch, or whatever you wish.

[Akaki] even designed some optional pieces, including a leg strap. The right-hand version of course does the D-pad instead. But what should the order of the arrow buttons be? After much contemplation, [Akaki] settled on the standard DDR configuration of ←↓↑→.

We love that the symbols are made from raw filament pressed into grooves, and think it’s totally awesome that this is made to be attached to the controller and removed with one hand. Check out the video below to see it in action with a handful of games.

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Assistive Tech And Video Games

Assistive technologies have a pretty big presence here on Hackaday, and this hack is nothing short of interesting. [kerchoo_22] is working on a hands-free video game controller as a final project for her engineering class and we think it’s worth sharing.

The basic premise of the circuit is pretty simple. She DIY’d a few contact switches using conductive plates made of cardboard, duct tape, and aluminum foil. The output of the switch is read by analog input pins on an Arduino Leonardo. When the switches are off, the analog input pins are pulled HIGH using 1 MegaOhm resistors. But when the user hits their head on one of the four conductive pads, the switch is engaged, and the analog input pins are shorted to ground.

The Arduino Leonardo, having a native USB port, is able to directly emulate a keyboard. Each conductive pad is mapped to a different key press corresponding to different functions within the game. Left, right, shoot, etc. And there you have it, gameplay without using hands or a controller!

Now, it seems as though [kerchoo_22] put an appropriate amount of cushion on the head pads, so there probably isn’t much danger of a concussion. Either way, you can never be too careful.

Inputs Of Interest: The OrbiTouch Keyless Keyboard And Mouse

I can’t remember how exactly I came across the OrbiTouch keyboard, but it’s been on my list to clack about for a long time. Launched in 2003, the OrbiTouch is a keyboard and mouse in one. It’s designed for people who can’t keyboard regularly, or simply want a different kind of experience.

The OrbiTouch was conceived of by a PhD student who started to experience carpal tunnel while writing papers. He spent fifteen years developing the OrbiTouch and found that it could assist many people who have various upper body deficiencies. So, how does it work?

It’s Like Playing Air Hockey with Both Hands

To use this keyboard, you put both hands on the sliders and move them around. They are identical eight-way joysticks or D-pads, essentially. The grips sort of resemble a mouse and have what looks like a special resting place for your pinky.

One slider points to groups of letters, numbers, and special characters, and the other chooses a color from a special OrbiTouch rainbow. Pink includes things like parentheses and their cousins along with tilde, colon and semi-colon. Black is for the modifiers like Tab, Alt, Ctrl, Shift, and Backspace. These special characters and modifiers aren’t shown on the hieroglyphs slider, you just have to keep the guide handy until you memorize the placement of everything around the circle.

You’re gonna need a decent amount of desk space for this. Image via OrbiTouch

The alphabet is divided up into groups of five letters which are color-coded in rainbow order that starts with orange, because red is reserved for the F keys. So for instance, A is orange, B is yellow, C is green, D is blue, E is purple, then it starts back over with F at orange. If you wanted to type cab, for instance, you would start by moving the hieroglyph slider to the first alphabet group and the color slider to green.

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Hackaday Links: September 27, 2020

Hardly a week goes by without a headline screaming about some asteroid or another making a close approach to Earth; it’s only by reading the fine print that we remember what an astronomer’s definition of “close” means. Still, 2020 being what it is, it pays to stay on top of these things, and when you do the story can get really interesting. Take asteroid 2020 SO, a tiny near-Earth asteroid that was discovered just last week. In a couple of weeks, 2020 SO will be temporarily captured into Earth orbit and come with 50,000 km near the beginning of December. That’s cool and all, but what’s really interesting about this asteroid is that it may not be a rock at all. NASA scientists have reverse-engineered the complex orbit of the object and found that it was in the vicinity of Earth in late 1966. They think it may be a Centaur booster from the Surveyor 2 moon mission, launched in September 1966 in the runup to Apollo. The object will be close enough for spectral analysis of its. surface; if it’s the booster, the titanium dioxide in the white paint should show up loud and clear.

Lasers are sort of forbidden fruit for geeks — you know you can put an eye out with them, and still, when you get your hands on even a low-power laser pointer, it’s hard to resist the urge to shine it where you shouldn’t. That includes into the night sky, which as cool as it looks could be bad news for pilots, and then for you. Luckily, friend of Hackaday Seb Lee-Delisle has figured out a way for you to blast lasers into the night sky to your heart’s content. The project is called Laser Light City and takes place in Seb’s home base of Brighton int he UK on October 1. The interactive installation will have three tall buildings with three powerful lasers mounted on each; a smartphone app will let participants control the direction, shape, and color of each beam. It sounds like a load of fun, so check it out if you’re in the area.

We got an interesting story from a JR Nelis about a quick hack he came up with to help his wife stay connected. The whole post is worth a read, but the short version of the story is that his wife has dementia and is in assisted living. Her landline phone is her social lifeline, but she can’t be trusted with it, lest she makes inappropriate calls. His solution was to modify her favorite cordless phone by modifying the keypad, turning it into a receive-only phone. It’s a sad but touching story, and it may prove useful to others with loved ones in similar situations.

We pay a lot of attention to the history of the early computer scene, but we tend to concentrate on computers that were popular in North America and the UK. But the Anglo-American computers were far from the only game in town, and there’s a new effort afoot to celebrate one of the less well-known but still important pioneer computers: the Galaksija. Aside from having a cool name, the Yugoslavian Z80 computer has a great story that will be told in documentary form, as part of the crowdsourced Galaksija project. The documentary stars our own Voja Antonic, who was key to the computer’s development. In addition to the film, the project seeks to produce a replica of the Galaksija in kit form. Check out the Crowd Supply page and see if it’s something you’re willing to back.

There’s an interesting new podcast out there: the Pick, Place, Podcast. Hosted by Chris Denney and Melissa Hough, it comes out every other week and is dedicated to the electronic assembly industry. They’ve currently got eight episodes in the can ranging from pick and place assembly to parts purchasing to solder paste printing. If you want to learn a little more about PCB assembly, this could be a real asset. Of course don’t forget to make time for our own Hackaday Podcast, where editors Mike and Elliot get together to discuss the week in hardware hacking.

Inputs Of Interest: BIGtrack Mouse Might Make You Squeal

You know me, I like to get my feet involved when I use my computer, which happens pretty much all day every day at this point. My cache of pedal inputs keeps growing like mushrooms in the darkness under my desk: every upper case letter in this post and dozens more have been capitalized with a shift pedal!

Naturally, I’ve thought about what it might be like to mouse with my toes. The more time I can spend with both hands on the keyboard, the better. I started sniffing around for foot-sized trackball candidates, thinking maybe I could just build one with regular mouse guts. Then I found a 15-year-old Golden Tee home edition console at a thrift store. It has a large ball and four buttons, so it seemed ripe for turning into a mouse as-is, or just stealing the ball to build my own. So far, that hasn’t happened, though I did solder a bunch of wires for testing out the controls. Continue reading “Inputs Of Interest: BIGtrack Mouse Might Make You Squeal”