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 Computer mouse driven by sound

This story is from the category Sensors
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Date posted: 22/10/2008

Say "ahh" and the cursor zips toward the northeast corner of the computer screen. "Ooo" sends it shooting straight south. Want it to head southeast? Say "ohh." To make the cursor do a circle or figure 8, let vowel sounds bleed into one another, like eee into ahh into aww and so on. You can make it hurry or slow by regulating the volume of your voice. To open a link, make a soft clicking sound.

So goes the University of Washington's "Vocal Joystick" software, which uses sounds to help people with disabilities use their computers.

Researchers have tested the joystick with spinal cord injury patients at the UW Medical Center and just finished another round of testing with 10 participants with varying levels of disabilities.

Susumu Harada, a computer science and engineering graduate student, administered the tests, putting each subject through 12 hours of training. He evaluated how they learned producing the correct vowel sounds, memorized the directional patterns and manipulated cursor speed.

Sometimes, moving the mouse by voice seemed frustrating, even a bit tiring. If the operator was out of sync with his own sounds as recorded by the software, the cursor might speed past a target in one direction and go so slowly in the other that the subject would have to take a break to catch his breath.

Some sounds came easily. Some seemed a bit unnatural and strained. But when a subject caught the rhythm, the task was easy and natural.

There are several options for people who need accommodations in using computers, but the UW software is distinguished on several levels. For one, it doesn't use standard voice-recognition technology. Instead, it detects basic sounds at about 100 times a second and harnesses them to generate fluid, adaptive cursor movement.

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com

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