Inputs Of Interest: Tongues For Technology

Welcome to the first installment of Inputs of Interest. In this column, we’re going to take a look at various input devices and methods, discuss their merits, give their downsides a rundown, and pontificate about the possibilities they present for hackers. I’ll leave it open to the possibility of spotlighting one particular device (because I already have one in mind), but most often the column will focus on input concepts.

A mouth mouse can help you get your input issues licked. Via @merchusey on Unsplash

Some inputs are built for having fun. Some are ultra-specific shortcuts designed to do work. Others are assistive devices for people with low mobility. And many inputs blur the lines between these three ideas. This time on Inputs of Interest, we’re going to chew on the idea of oral inputs — those driven by the user’s tongue, teeth, or both.

Unless you’ve recently bitten it, burned it, or had it pierced, you probably don’t think much about your tongue. But the tongue is a strong, multi-muscled organ that rarely gets tired. It’s connected to the brain by a cranial nerve, and usually remains undamaged in people who are paralyzed from the neck down. This makes it a viable input-driving option for almost everyone, regardless of ability. And yet, tongues and mouths in general seem to be under-utilized as input appendages.

Ideally, any input device should be affordable and/or open source, regardless of the driving appendage. Whether the user is otherwise able-bodied or isn’t, there’s no reason the device shouldn’t be as useful and beautiful as possible.

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$20 Sip-and-Puff Mouse From E-Cig And 3D Printing

At Hackaday, we think the highest form of hacking is hacking for good. Sure, it’s fun to build robots and gadgets, and universal remotes. But it is even better to create things that make people’s lives better. In that spirit, we enjoyed seeing¬†the Assistive Tech Challenge over on Thingiverse that ended last month. The winner was [0_o] who used 3D printing and an Arduino to produce a mouth-operated mouse for under $20.

sip-sensor-from-ecigInstructions on Thingiverse can be spotty, but [0_o] did an excellent job of laying out what you need to buy and how to assemble it. One of the most interesting parts of the build is the blow sensor. [0_o] tore apart a $5 electronic cigarette and used the sensor within. The mouthpiece is moved like a joystick to actuate the cursor, and the user blows into it for the mouse clicks. Perhaps not a true sip-and-puff system but it made us wonder what other uses you might find for these sensors.

You can see a video about the mouse after the break. These kinds of projects have the power to make someone’s life better and what could be better than that?

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