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Head-Mounted Mouse 57

madburn writes "MacInTouch has a blurb about a device from Boost Technology called the Tracer. It appears to be an almost-affordable head-mounted "mouse" with the features and performance needed for serious use, including 360-degree field of view. It supports USB and PS/2. I wonder if this will make the Quake experience more immersive?" The girl in the picture looks kinda stoned, but I can imagine that this could be useful for the handicapped, and fun for someone looking for a different input device.
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Head-Mounted Mouse

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  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or neck problems?

    I think I'll take carpal tunnel, despite the obvious impact it would have on my sex life.

    Yo soy El Fontosaurus Grande!
  • Tracer's micro-gyroscope technology senses the smallest movements of your head

    They say it gives mouse control to people with muscular dystrophy. Hmmm, let's look at the definition of muscular dystrophy []:

    Any of a group of progressive muscle disorders caused by a defect in one or more genes that control muscle function and characterized by gradual irreversible wasting of skeletal muscle.

    It stands to reason such a person might have problems with a mouse that picks up even the slightest head movement.

  • carpal tunnel syndrome for the neck?

    Tracer gives mouse control to people with ... Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Just experiment with moving your head around like you would have to do move your mouse and you know that would get tiring.

  • Hmm. The tech specs say its maximum operating temperature is 104 F. Does this mean very sick people with high fever could break this by wearing it?

  • And what if the phone to your RIGHT rings? What would you do then? The average person would learn to ignore the phone or pause the game before talking on the phone.
  • From that vantage point, doesn't she look like a penguin []?

    Also, the way I play Unreal Tournament and Quake III Arena this thing would be migraine and tumor inducing.

  • "make the Quake experience more immersive"? The answer is NO. As you move your head you move the pointer. If you look behind you then you can not still be looking at the monitor, now can you? It is also not their intention to make games more "immersive". Why don't you reand the damn article.
  • Sometime, once a graphics designer has gotten one of these:

    1. Selects object to move, turns head to move it.
    2. Turns head to move it; is no longer looking at screen.
    3. Asks: Is it moved far enough?
    4. Turns his head back; picture moves back.
    5. Repeat from step 2.
  • Wow!! When are they coming out with a version that provides video game "feedback" and can like, knock your head back when there's an explosion?? :-)
  • Doug Engelbart [] (, the inventor of the mouse, experimented [] with a head-mounted mouse. As he put it,

    About that time I also rigged up a mechanism that utilized a lightweight helmet for the user to wear: turning his head from side to side would move the cursor horizontally, and nodding the head
    up and down would move the cursor vertically. This looked a bit strange, but it worked. AND this also gave me cramps, in the neck, after ten minutes or so.

    He also tried a knee-cursor, which was very popular with new users, as well as a foot-mouse, etc. He settled on a mouse and a 5-key chording keyset. NLS (aka AUGMENT) is an impressive thing in action.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am wondering why we dont have VR gear avaliable to the public at a resonable price. Yes there are head mounted displays, and wireless mice and such. But they all suck currently and could never be ued for playing something like quake 3 in total imersion. We Head tracking, hand tracking for aiming, simulated surround sound..etc. Is anyone working on this? I have to believe that gamers world wide would go crazy or something like this.
  • Lets hope there is never a force feedback version of *this* mouse...

    playing quake could cause whiplash....
  • I don't know about anyone else here, but I can move my hand much quicker and with greater precision than my head. Less mass, less momentum, and much more muscle control in my wrist than my neck. This'd HURT playing Quake.
  • This looks like Gyration's Gyroscope mouse with a headband.
    Boy do I need sleep -- I thought you meant "Inventor of Everything" Gyro Gearloose's [] mouse...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • I find it interesting that Commander Taco has never been told that it is politically incorrect to refer to disabled persons as handicapped. If he actually cared, they are physically disabled or physically challenged. Just as a bit of history, handicap refers to an old term used to describe persons who were disabled and sat on the side of the street holding their hat out at arm's length begging for money. I haven't seen too many of those types lately. Someone tell CmdrTaco what he really means when he calls someone handicapped.
    It is a word that has in many ways become embedded in our culture. Most persons just deal with it, but some do get offended by this usage. It doesn't hurt to be a bit sensitive about this kind of thing.
  • > It seems like every six months these days, someone comes out with a head-motion pointer. They go way, way back.

    Indeed, the first one I recall was a Mac pointer in 1985 or 1986. It was worn more like headphones than this thing, and it had a microphone with which you'd make a sound to click.
  • Does the mouse produce an electrical or magnetic field ? :)
  • That's exactly what I thought, and I'm sure that's what it is.

    You'd be amazed at how expensive normal stuff that's been modifed, even just slightly, for the medical industry is. I volunteer at a mainstreaming school, and there are a lot of toys in the therapy department that are just normal toys with a 1/4" headphone jack in series with the power switch. That way they can hook them up to a variety of switches to teach kids how to use a sip & puff or how to pull a string or whatever.

    One of those yappy dogs that does a little backflip, plus a 65 cent headphone jack from radio shack can easily run into the hundreds of dollars. It's nuts. Half the time I'm there I'm running around with a soldering iron fixing the talking cookie monster or the busted teletubby because they can't afford to replace them.

    Granted some of the pricing makes sense on things like the mounted switches, which are pretty low run manufacure, but still have some custom machining and molding to them. But the toys and other items are a total ripoff.
  • This story has been up for less than a half hour and it's already slashdotted. Must be a complete piece of crap server/conection they have. Anyway, it appears obvious that the mouse is only for less than fully operational people. I think it's a good thing though.

    Dive Gear []
  • ...Tyson got to look the way he does. He must have been a beta tester for one of these.
  • I think head tracking is better than eye tracking for this. I would want to be able to look at the corners of my screen without the mouse pointer moving there. It should be a deliberate motion causing the pointer to move. Imagine playing Quake and when you look at your health bar, your view goes spiraling around. Head tracking is much better
  • I absolutely hate going keyboard-mouse-keyboard-mouse back and forth. Ugh. So I put a trackball under the table that I use with my toes (several months ago). It helps, but not much 'cause my sock slids on the ball...

    So, I just mount one of these on my foot. This gets around all those naysayers who don't like eye-trackers (never mind the F117 and Apache targeting systems...) or head-trackers. And, it uses my feet, which are almost never otherwise used in my computing experience.

    Therefore, I want one. Now. I will Rule You in All Games, because I can use the mouse to move, keyboard to fire, and feet to aim.

    (Although, you would have to develop a *rather* high level of ambidextrousity to do this right! It was hard enough when I decided to try using keyboard+mouse at the same time in FPS games...)

  • You would have to be an Owl or Goldie Hawn ("Death Becomes Her") to manage this one without an ensuing trip to casualty (or a morgue).
  • Awwww, comon. I can understand not moderating a dumb joke up, but DOWN?? Back to 2 Karma for me. I'll get you for this you hidden, unidentifiable moderator.
  • ... the Wingamn Warrior by Logitech.
    Unfortunately they dont sell them any more (why?). But they had a 360' dial that controlled turning leaving the joystick (left & right) available for strafing. Makes the circle-strafe technique a piece of piss.

    The problem I had was trying to get drivers to work with newer games. The ones they supplied for games of the time (Doom, etc.) were excellent and gave a definite advantage over mouse or keyboard using opponents.
  • by DNSjunkie ( 117410 ) on Sunday March 18, 2001 @10:51AM (#356159)
    i have a really nasty RSI problem (repetitive stress injury; most people who claim to have, or are diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel, really have an RSI type issue). After a lot of research, I bought an expensive version of one of these head mice, the head tracker []. Long story short, while it helped me pull through the harder times, and keep working, i would have been MUCH better off walking away. I've done serious damage to my neck (and my arms are still pretty bad). I've also tried foot mice - you damage your feet. Think about it - your neck (or your arms) for that matter weren't built for such fine motor movements, repeated thousands of times... word to the wise, they may help some people who have NO other way to access a computer, but I would be weary for others... we need a device that can read brainwaves... LEFT!!! no LEFT!!! god damn it! (click...) doh!
  • by tdrury ( 49462 )
    move it down your head a little and you'll look like Toucan Sam or Opus.

    move it down your body even further and you can play Quake by performing Elvis gyrations.
  • You are right, but that is quite a common problem in that area. Devices that are developed and made for disabled people are expensive simply because the market is pretty small. And often, these devices need much more testing and require higher standards for software usability etc. And the companies can't use the normal distribution channels for their stuff, which also adds to the costs.

    So yes, it's stupid that these devices are so expensive, but it's not just that those companies want to make a quick buck. They simply can't produce these things at mass-market prices.
  • I wonder if the continual head movement required to use this device might cause a Repetitive Strain Injury in your neck? Although it is pretty light, it is weighted off center to the front of your head. Especially since they have designed the rechargable batteries to be good for "over ten straight hours" of working at your computer.

    Put 5 ounces on your forehead and move your head as much as you'd move your hand on a mouse working for 10 hours and see if your neck gets sore.
  • I work for an organization that does habilitation of people born with physical disabilities. One person who works for us, who has no use of his legs and very little use of his arms, uses his computer with a head-mounted stylus and a standard keyboard with a plastic plate over it with holes for each key, and uses mousekeys for the mouse... He's extremely good with working with that setup, i'd bet he could type faster than half the "normal" people there, and he actually types our monthly newsletter. However, he's not great with the mouse (as anyone who's had to use mousekeys would know), but he wouldn't be able to use this as it would interfere with his typing. Has anyone ever seen anything that may work better for him?

    Walter H. Trent "Muad'Dib"
    Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe, IMHO
  • But it's listed at the top of the /. article.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • It seems like every six months these days, someone comes out with a head-motion pointer. They go way, way back.

    They're not even new to /. []

    Way back in the pre-ibmpc haze, Sage/Stride marketed one that required you to put a reflective dot on your forehead. Never took off.

    This one looks real expensive, you can get a similar device for a lot cheaper HERE [], for fifty bucks. Even has built in headphones.

  • by PhatKat ( 78180 )
    Now playing virtual tennis would be just like watching real tennis!

    left... right... left... right... left... right...
  • Well, I believe that Stephen Hawking is a self admitted "fucking quake master!"
  • The girl in the picture looks kinda stoned, but I can imagine that this could be useful for the handicapped

    I think that being stoned could be useful for the non-handicapped, as well.

    Gooroos Software: plugging you in to Maya

  • To spinn your view in quake 360 degrees, you need to move you mouse quite a distance. Also, you can't move your mouse back without the view orientating back to the starting position. Imagin those head movements! (or you could just oil your chair, and have a wide open space around you....)

    Who cares about hand pains when you can break your neck in front of the computer!

    - Knut S.
  • I own a HeadMouse, which is a competing product listed on Tracers comparison page []. There are some factors that they didn't squeeze in on the chart, that I will list here:

    HeadMouse only requires a small metallic sticky-dot to be affixed somewhere on your head, like the bill of your hat.
    Tracer requires you to wear some head gear.

    HeadMouse doesn't require any batteries.
    Tracer requires you to charge batteries on a daily basis.

    I should also note that I do not experience "noticeable leg time" while using HeadMouse. Its cursor appears quite responsive, moving as I do. I guess it all boils down to what you need it for. Being a quadriplegic, I personally have several things to consider.

    For the disabled, getting that head gear on and off isn't going to be easy, possibly downright impossible.

    This may seem trivial, but it's important. Say I'm screwing around at home, and there is a knock at my door. Trust me, I am not going to want to answer the door looking like I came straight out of a sci-fi movie. If looks weren't important, I would have an umbrella attached to my chair during the winter, and various other doo-dads. (that'll be the day.)

    Charging batteries sucks. There isn't much getting around it.

    Field Of View:
    I'm only using it for desktop use, so I have no need for a 360 degree field of view. I mean, I _do_ want to be facing my computer while I'm using it, right?

    I will be the first to say there are shortcomings in both systems. However, as these things are generally geared toward the disabled, I can't ignore the independence issue. Contrary to popular thought, we aren't all waited on hand and foot. ;)

    I would pay double the price and get the HeadMouse, but only because of my particular situation. Obviously, my condition isn't the norm.

    Still, technology _is_ great. If they could just develop it into something smaller...

  • This product is just a Gyropoint Mouse [] mounted on a headband. I've been intrigued by this concept for years, and recently I finally bought one.

    This device just isn't practical for serious user interaction. To click on something, you have to be very good at holding the mouse steady. My hand-eye coordination sucks, but I doubt if anybody has that kind of skill. Especially not someone with spinal injuries.


  • If he actually cared, they are physically disabled or physically challenged.

    As somebody who is disabled, I would much rather be called "handicapped" than "physically challenged". To hear somebody say "physically challenged" within a sentence makes me want to laugh. People with disabilities KNOW they are disabled, and don't need it sugar-coated.

    If you don't like the term handicapped, by all means, don't use it. But do me and the rest of the disabled community a favor and steer clear of terms like "handi-capable" or "physically challenged."

    Thanks. :)

  • Depending on his computer setup, a switch can be mounted for him. Basically, using some sort of head mouse product, he can move his head to point, and then use a foot-switch to click the mouse button. It doesn't interfere with typing any more than when a "normal" person has their hand leave the keyboard for their mouse.

    Most of these products support an external switch.

  • do you click the mouse by winking at the computer?
  • So how do you overclock a wheelchair then?

    Why am I scared someone on slashdot'll answer this?

  • I usually sit more than 10 hours straight in front of the pc tho..
  • Without reading the article, I would imagine the best way would be like the frustrated composer in Sesame Street...

  • by bonzoesc ( 155812 ) <> on Sunday March 18, 2001 @07:41AM (#356178) Homepage
    This would not be good in most FPS games, because of something I call "confused immersion" - in game, if you hear a sound to the left, and you turn your head left, the enemy is right in your crosshairs. What if the phone to your left rings? You turn to get it, and... "KABOOM!! Terrorists win!" Stick with your hand-held mouse for games. And don't get me started on whiplash in the workplace cases.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • Tracer is a whole new kind of mouse you control by moving your head (or any other part of the body that you can accurately control*).

    Or any other part of the body that can be controlled? I wonder how/if the porn industry will adopt this.

  • by BitchAss ( 146906 ) on Sunday March 18, 2001 @07:44AM (#356180) Homepage
    The girl in the picture looks kinda stoned

    umm...that's because she has Quadriplegia, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and any other disability where the user lacks the hand control to use a standard mouse but retains good head movement.
  • A distractions would play well in the game with a head mounted mouse
    It'd be useful, but would there be any possible health implications? Doubtful, but you'll find someone who'll bitch about something being unhealthy with it
    Btw, that fp, that person has too much time on their hands
  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Sunday March 18, 2001 @07:40AM (#356182)
    If you have to turn 180 degrees to point behind you, then how could you see the monitor? ;)
  • How do you justify an $800 mouse to play Quake 3? Even at half the price, it's WAY more expensive than any standard mouse - even the Intellimouse Explorer I paid $80 for is cheap when compared to this and only marginally less accurate if at all. What about neck injuries?Save yourself $720+, buy an intellimouse explorer (you can find it cheaper nowadays or a cheaper knock-off) and buy a GeForce 3 when they are released.....and you should still have a few bucks left over for a couple of cases of beer.
  • If you ever want to REALLY /. a web site with hits, post a story that says "the girl in the picture looks kinda stoned." Immediately all of us went clicking like mad for that link, hoping to see a stoned chick. Hahaha.
  • We have now gone from users suffering pained wrists from CTS to users dropping dead when their neck swells up from using one of these.
  • Here's mirror links to some of the pages there:

    Description []

    testimonials []

    Tech Specs. []

  • This looks like Gyration's Gyroscope mouse [] with a headband.

    Obviously it needs something else to allow for clicking/dragging but I find that hard to justify the steep pricetag the company is charging.

  • The girl in the picture looks kinda stoned...

    ANYONE who is staring at a cathode-ray tube or an LCD flat panel looks kinda stoned. That's the entire reason behind the name "idiot box."

  • by ghoti ( 60903 ) on Sunday March 18, 2001 @07:56AM (#356189) Homepage
    This mouse is as useful for playing Q3 as a wheelchair. That's not what it was made for. So please stop bitching about bad control, this isn't meant for playing!

    This mouse can be used by people with disabilities that can't control their hands accurately enough (or at all) to operate a normal mouse. So this is certainly very useful for a rather small group of people. And that group is *not* Q3 players ...
  • Draw. Surf. Design. Communicate. Connect.

    They don't list game, play or kill among the recommended uses.

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.