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Point and Snoot: Introducing the Nose Mouse

By Mark Essig
Sep 16, 2004 4:05 PM PT

At long last, the noses of computer users have a purpose beyond holding up eyeglasses and balancing spoons.

Point and Snoot: Introducing the Nose Mouse

Thanks to a Canadian scientist, now you can use your nose to control your computer. Dmitry Gorodnichy of the Institute of Information Technology in Ottawa, Canada, has created the "Nouse," a contraction of "Nose as Mouse."

Aid to Disabled

The new technology allows users to push a cursor along their computer screens by moving their noses.

Need to right or left click? Just blink the corresponding eye twice.

The Nouse, Gorodnichy says, will be particularly useful for people with disabilities.

He also believes it will allow people to interact in new ways with computers, especially in the realm of three-dimensional environments.

NousePaint and NousePong

For simple applications such as drawing or word processing, the Nouse relies on a Web cam plugged into a USB port and pointed at the user.

The software keeps track of the position of the tip of the user's nose, shifting the cursor to correspond to nose movements. Motion-detection software keeps track of blinking to perform the click function.

Using the Nouse in three-dimensional environments, such as design and game software, requires the use of two broadly spaced Web cams. Both cameras locate the nose tip, and the software uses the two images to calculate the user's head movements in three dimensions.

To demonstrate the software's potential, the Canadian lab has worked out a few applications, including NousePaint, which allows users to draw on the screen using only the nose and eyes, multiple-user NousePong and a point-and-shoot game called BubbleFrenzy.

'Ample Room for Looking Silly'

Many analysts believe the Nouse is pointing the way to the future of human-computer interactions, but others are less certain. Joe Laszlo, a technology analyst at Jupiter Research, told the New Scientist, "I cannot ignore the high silliness factor of Nouse," he says.

"People baulk at doing things that require them to look silly, and there is ample room for looking silly here."

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