IBM researchers have invented a computer mouse adapter designed to enable people who suffer from hand tremors to have normal use of a PC.
Big Blue said today that it is licensing the Assistive Mouse Adapter to Montrose Secam, a small British electronics company, which will manufacture and sell the device for under $100.
According to Professor Leslie Findley, consultant neurologist and founder of the UK National Tremor Foundation, an estimated three million people in the UK suffer from some form of tremor, most commonly affecting the hand.
The involuntary movements of the hand when using a mouse make it extremely difficult to operate a PC. In many cases simple tasks like opening an email or pressing a web button are made almost impossible because of the erratic movements of the cursor on the screen.
The mouse adaptor is designed to solve these problems by filtering out the shaking movements of the hand in a similar way to the image stablising systems of some camera lenses. The device will work with any PC and operating system.
The Assistive Mouse Adapter is simply plugged in between the computer and the mouse and can be switched on or off, and adjusted depending on the tremor severity. It can also be set to filter out unintended multiple clicking on the mouse caused by a shaking finger.
James Cosgrave, one of the founders of Montrose Secam, suffers from a tremor condition which he inherited at birth.
"I am a pilot and my tremor condition has not limited my ability to fly a plane, but using a PC has proven almost impossible simply because everything revolves around using the mouse to accurately manipulate the tiny cursor on the screen," he explained.
"I have been using a prototype of the mouse adaptor for over a year now and it has literally transformed my life."
Karen Walsh, manager of the UK National Tremor Foundation, added: "Tremor conditions can have a devastating effect on people's lives because they make many simple everyday tasks incredibly difficult, from holding a drink, to buttoning a shirt.
"Using a computer mouse is well known for being extremely hard for people with tremors so we are delighted to hear that a technology has been developed to address this problem. We anticipate that it will generate a huge interest with sufferers of the condition."
Montrose Secam plans to donate a percentage of sales from the adapter to local tremor foundations to help offer support and advice to sufferers.
More information about the Assistive Mouse Adapter can be found at the Montrose Secam website here.
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