A compassionate mouse

April 28, 2000

Two PhD students at Loughborough University have developed a "touchy-feely" computer mouse that should close the conceptual distance between user and machine.

Michael Macaulay and Alistair May, research students in the department of computer science, have developed the mouse to sense how hard the user clicks and continues to press the mouse button.

Research has shown that, when stressed, users tend to click the mouse button harder. "The new mouse, used together with future software able to adapt a computer's behaviour, could help to reduce the user's stress level," said Mr Macaulay. "For example, if the mouse button is being clicked excessively hard, the computer could alert the user with a bleep, display a warning or offer various types of online help."

The sentient mouse could also help to reduce the incidence of related repetitive strain injuries by alerting users to other potentially damaging habits.

Mr Macaulay said: "The traditional mouse, being limited in its sensitivity to how hard the button is clicked and the force used to hold the button down, can hinder the user's interaction with the computer.

"The new mouse provides increased sensitivity, allowing it to be used, for example, with games that involve the control of speed, firepower or movement, or with drawing applications, where a variation in pencil thickness is needed."

The mouse has been developed through simple modifications to the conventional design. While the features and outward appearance of the traditional mouse have been retained, more advanced electronics and mechanics effect the increase in sensitivity.

The researchers are seeking collaborators to market the product.

Details: macaulm@sbu.ac.uk The Times HigherJapril 28J2000enterprise 13 Click-sensitive: the 'touchy-feely' mouse senses its user's stress levels Image Bank

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