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a pointing mechanism for a personal computer which is activated by movements of the nose
'The inventor expects the nose-steered mouse, or nouse, will make using a computer easier for people with disabilities or for video game enthusiasts who would like to slay bad guys with the bob of the head and blink of an eye.'www.stuff.co.nz 16th September 2004
'Devices such as the Nouse are fantastic because they really empower disabled people …'CNN.com 30th September 2004
If you have ever worried about the size or shape of your nose, 21st century technology may be about to provide you with a whole new way of appreciating it. Your nose may begin to serve a purpose which goes beyond aesthetic appearance, or even your sense of smell! Enter the nouse, a device which has the same pointing function as a computer mouse, but is controlled by movements of the nose. If your arm starts to ache, you may in future have the option of positioning the cursor with your nose, and instead of those wrist strain-inducing left and right mouse clicks, you may be able to effortlessly blink your left or right eye.
the nouse's camera takes a picture of the tip of the user's nose … the movements of which the system can subsequently track
The nose-steered nouse takes advantage of webcam technology. At the start of a session at the computer, the nouse's camera takes a picture of the tip of the user's nose. This is converted into a pattern of pixels, the movements of which the system can subsequently track. These movements can then be translated into the same signals that would normally come from a conventional mouse.
In addition to providing a change from the keyboard and mouse, pioneers of this new technology are hoping it will have major benefits in making control of a computer easier for people with physical disabilities. The nouse is expected to be commercially available in 2005.
The term nouse is, of course, formed from a blend of the words nose and mouse, standing for nose as mouse. This trademark term was coined in 2004 by the mechanism's inventor, Dmitry Gorodnichy, of the Institute of Information Technology in Ottawa, Canada. Underlying the mechanism is the technology of perceptual vision systems (PVS), the idea that visual cues from a user, such as the motion of the face, can be used to control computer devices. Previous perceptual vision technology attempted to use the mouth or eyebrows as tracking devices, but because these facial features can look entirely different when only slightly rotated, software that's tracking them can easily get confused. The characteristic pixel pattern generated by the convex tip of the nose is easier to spot, even when the orientation of the face changes.
The plural of computer mouse can be mouses or mice, though the latter is about 10 times as frequent. It remains to be seen whether nouses or nice (or both) will become established as the plural of nouse.
This article was first published on 4th October 2004.