This is a computer mouse that can be operated just by gazing at your screen without using your hands. You don’t need to use your hands because cameras see where you are looking. It can be faster than a regular mouse because you don’t need to move your hand between the keyboard and mouse. In the video above, you can see the Precision Gaze Mouse window on the left-hand. As I look around the screen, the mouse pointer moves to where I’m looking.
I originally created it for myself because I have neuropathy and I didn’t want to be limited by my disease. It’s free and open source so I can help as many people as possible.
The problem with other mice
Regular mice can be slow to operate because you need to constantly switch your hands back and forth from the keyboard to the mouse. They can also cause repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, people with diseases like peripheral neuropathy, ALS, spinal cord injury and others may find operating a mouse with their hands difficult.
Head tracking mice like NaturalPoint’s SmartNav require you to wear an inconvienient reflective dot on your head. Also, you must set the sensitivity high enough to select a single character, which requires wide head rotations to move the pointer across the entire screen. This makes moving the mouse slower and can cause muscle fatigue after many hours per day.
Gaze tracking mice like Tobii’s PCEye have a camera that can look at your eyes and determine where on the screen they are pointing. Eye gaze is very fast because eyes can quickly move to fix on a point. However, it’s only accurate within 1-4 cm. Their solution is to have a two-step process where you first gaze at a control bar to turn on clicking, then gaze where you want to click and it zooms in on the exact point. Unfortunately, this means it takes longer to click.
How it works
The Precision Gaze Mouse offers the best of both worlds: the speed of gaze tracking, and the precision of head tracking. It can instantly move or “warp” the mouse pointer to the area of the screen where you’re looking. Often, it will warp right where you want the pointer, but sometimes you’ll need to make a small adjustment. You can move your head slightly up and down or to the side to precisely click on small buttons or pieces of text. It only requires a small movement to adjust the pointer.
Your eye naturally moves around when you look at a fixed point, even though you don’t notice it happening. This is known as a saccade. If we matched the mouse pointer directly to your eye movement it would make the mouse jitter. The Precision Gaze Mouse will not change position until you look outside a 1-4 cm radius, effectively getting rid of the jitter. Keeping your eyes focused on the point and moving your head allows precise adjustments.
Also, when you move your regular mouse the Precision Gaze Mouse pauses automatically so your regular mouse can take over. This lets you easily switch to the most convenient mouse.
To run this software, you need to install a gaze tracker or head tracker device. I recommend having both for the best experience. It also requires Windows 7 or higher. I’ve tested with the below hardware, but other options may work.
- Tobii EyeX 4C (~$139)
- A webcam
- A hot key or switch for clicking