LETI: Development of LETI Scientists Will Allow Using a Computer Hands-Free

Today, tens of thousands of people with disabilities cannot fully use a computer due to musculoskeletal disorders. Working with a computer mouse is either very difficult or impossible for them since, in most cases, it requires fully functioning upper limbs.

“There are many technological solutions that allow users to control the cursor and create events equivalent to pressing the left or right mouse button without using their hands. This is done in various ways, in particular by recognizing facial expressions, eye pupil movements, eyebrows and head rotation on the signal from the webcam, through voice commands, and using neuro-interfaces,” comments Vsevolod Simon, Assistant of the Department of Electronic Instruments and Devices at LETI.

Making computers more accessible to users with disabilities is the project of scientists from the Department of Electronic Instruments and Devices of LETI. The development was supported by a grant from the Youth Innovation Projects Contest of ETU “LETI.”

The experimental prototype is a compact monoblock that can be mounted on any tripod for smartphones or on the included flexible holder, allowing one to mount the device on different surfaces.

The device includes 2-axis resistive joystick, on which a plastic mouthpiece is fixed. A pressure sensor is connected to the mouthpiece through a rubber tube. A microcontroller processes the signals from the joystick and the pressure sensor and the result is transmitted to the computer via the USB interface. When connected, the device is recognized as a normal mouse without the need to install drivers. The user moves the mouthpiece with his lips, teeth, or tongue, causing the cursor to move on the computer display, and the left or right mouse button is pressed when the user breathes in or out of the mouthpiece. This way, a person can use the functions of a standard mouse hands-free.

“The closest functional analog of our development is the computer controller Jouse from the Canadian company Compusult. It costs for $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the version, which creates favorable conditions for creating a substitution,” comments Vsevolod Simon.

In the analog, the joystick and pressure sensor are on a tripod separately from the control unit. In the device created by LETI scientists, they are in the same housing as the control unit.

“This solution allows saving not only on housing but also due to the possibility of positioning the arm without a tripod because it is cheaper for a user to buy a suitable holder independently. For example, the cost of a tripod for a smartphone is up to a thousand rubles”.

Vsevolod Simon, Assistant of the Department of Electronic Instruments and Devices at LETI
The controller can be made wireless by adding a radio module and a battery compartment, which will increase flexibility in organizing the workplace and allow you to not depend on cables.

In the short term, scientists plan to work on optimizing the design and making it attractive. Almazov National Medical Research Center and ELTECH-Med have already expressed interest in developing the manipulator.

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