Device Controls Laptop Without Keyboard, Mouse

BT researchers have produced a device that makes it easier for disabled people or those working in cramped conditions to control laptop computers without the need for a mouse or keyboard.

The BT Balance device could be used by employers to help meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, which requires businesses to make "reasonable adjustments" to provide disabled people with the same rights to work as non-disabled people.

BT is also pitching the device at companies where staff such as engineers or technicians need to use laptop machines in confined spaces or other difficult locations.

The device uses computer game technology to enable users to manipulate menus and applications by moving or tilting their machine.

The device is a small adaptor containing movement sensors, which can be plugged into any standard laptop or tablet PC. It works with software that translates movement of the laptop machine into actions on the user's screen.

The software can be adapted so that users can move a cursor, turn the pages of a virtual book or make a Voice over IP phone call by tilting or moving the laptop machine.

Adam Oliver, head of age and disability research at BT, said: "The technology has obvious implications for those who are disabled or elderly and have difficulty using a fiddly laptop keyboard or mouse.

"We also wanted to create an interface that was simple and intuitive. Standard ways of controlling PC applications can be too complicated, so we decided to use the analogy of a book to work with. What we ended up with gives you the same look and feel of picking up a book and reading it but in a 3D digital format."

He added that the machine could also be used where trying to type or manipulate a tiny keyboard might be difficult, citing the example of engineers working in the field.

The technology is currently being tested by specialist researchers, BT said.

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