User Stories

Mark (England)

Eyal

Can you describe your condition?

“SMA (Spinal muscular atrophy), a genetic degenerative muscle wasting condition. I have extremely weak muscles.”

How do you benefit from the KinesicMouse?

“I have been using KinesicMouse to play games which I otherwise would not have been able to play. Previously I was limited to games that only made use of the mouse (plus limited keys using the on-screen keyboard). Now I have access to 7-8 more inputs, and can broaden my gaming horizon.”

“It has enabled me to go back to playing Guild Wars 2, which is something I never expected to be playing again. I love turn-based strategy games, but having the KinesicMouse means I can consider other game genres. Also you would be surprised by how many turn-based strategy games have (unnecessary) UI elements that previously made some of them very difficult for me to play.”

Would you recommend the KinesicMouse to other people in the same condition?

“I would recommend KinesicMouse to someone with more advanced SMA muscle weakness who can no longer use a keyboard/mouse. With the hardware + software it is quite an expensive option, but considering how many hours many of us spend at our PCs it is worth it.”

What are the top three facial expressions in the KinesicMouse?

  • mouth left
  • mouth right
  • eyebrows up

Which input devices do you use to control your PC?

“I am still able to use a two button mouse with my right hand. I use the on-screen keyboard, and voice recognition software. However, I am unable to use a keyboard.”

Are there still any scenarios left where you feel that you lack control?

“There is a steep learning curve with KinesicMouse and I am still learning. At times this can be frustrating.”

“I am slowly becoming more proficient with the facial expressions required, and also coming to understand which movements I can do reasonably well, and which movements I can do extremely well.”

“For Instance today I made some changes in one of my game profiles that gave me more precision control of my character in Guild wars 2, and enabled me to do some of the jumping puzzles, which I was unable to do yesterday. I still feel I do not have as much control as I would like, but it is now pretty good.”


The Mouse That Saved My Life - A letter from Eyal (USA)

At the risk of sounding overdramatic, from a quality-of-life point of view, this software has allowed me to continue working and to do software development, which is what I'm most passionate about.

Eyal

About me

Having been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 13 years ago at the ripe young age of 37, my biggest fear was to lose my ability to control my PC. Well, as a software developer specializing in artificial intelligence, I wasn't prepared to let that happen. So, I quickly went to work on creating a technology solution. Necessity is the mother of invention and in retrospect I can confirm that.

Parkinson's

The disability faced by "Parkinsonians" is perhaps the most challenging of all because of the following reasons:

  1. the tremor not only becomes more and more severe as time goes on, but affects almost the entire body including the head and eyes.
  2. as if such a tremor were not enough, it is also accompanied by stiff and rigid muscles, like a tensing or tightening of the surrounding muscles that happens unconsciously in what I believe is the body's attempt to try to stop the tremor.

What I have tried

Not realizing this at first, I thought that I could solve this problem a few different ways. The original attempt was just to use voice recognition which has the ability to also control the mouse, but as great a job that it did in transcribing all that I said, it was virtually unusable as a mouse control.

Next on my list to try was the head tracking technology which was quite cheap and seemed like a reasonable way to go. Well, it was definitely a way to go. Specifically, it went right into the garbage. Not only was it a pain to have to put a special reflective sticker on your forehead, hat, glasses, or wherever you can find some real estate to put it on, but you end up moving your upper body around much like a seal, only to end up being able to move your mouse to where you want but without the ability to stop at the precision of a single pixel and to maintain it there without it bouncing around all over the place.

Showing no mercy and realizing that failure was not an option, I turned to the eye tracking technologies which for the most part were affordable, but also had models that extended into the thousands of dollars. I tried the three most popular eye tracking devices and reluctantly came to the conclusion that as good as that technology might be, it is not sophisticated enough to take on the Parkinsonian challenge.

I even went so far as to develop my own software for one of them which tries to compensate for my unique requirements by knowing when to become less sensitive to fine movements, so that I can zero in on placing my mouse at exactly the point I wanted. I must say that it at least worked better than anything else that I tried, but was still too far away from being my ultimate practical solution. It was also tedious to constantly be recalibrating it and also having to make sure that the position of my head would not accidentally slip outside of the 8 inch imaginary box that is needed to stay within, in order for the eye tracker to successfully track.

Frustration and becoming hopeful ...

Sharing all this frustration with my fellow geeks, one of them asked me if I had looked into the Kinect box. I responded ignorantly, explaining to him that I don't have time for video games, I need a mouse that works the way I need it to. He quickly educated me on its diverse list of features, and so I did what any other self-respecting software developer would do. I googled it.

Experiencing the KinesicMouse

That is when I found this product, KinesicMouse. It had a free trial so I figured what the heck. My first ray of hope was that this box worked right out of the box and didn't need any calibration or restriction on where I needed to place my head. But then when I launched the program, I was in awe of how sophisticated and thorough the software was, giving me total control over the dozens of different facial expressions and gestures that I can choose from to control the different aspects of the mouse.

Can it handle tremor?

There were literally dozens of options to choose from which I can then instantly map to the different mouse functions (click, double-click, right-click, drag, etc.). The big test was how it was going to handle my ever-changing tremor that has infiltrated virtually every part of me. Well, I saw that in addition to the three basic modes that I can choose from, next to each recognizable facial gesture there were several controls that determined the subtle behavior of each of those gestures.

For example, not only the rate of acceleration of the mouse, but also how soon or immediate the mouse movement/action began or ended, along with a real time graph that you can open up in order to preview or try out any of the settings to see how well they work or how to best tweak them. I couldn't believe it. No other software that I had seen came even close to this level of minutia.

Mouse control

Trying to not get overly optimistic, I started to play around with it. When I chose the third basic mode of operation, called "continuous", all of a sudden the mouse became as steady as a rock and moved smoothly along any direction I chose using one of the gestures described earlier. The best part, though, was when I stopped gesturing, the mouse just stopped dead in its tracks and didn't move even one pixel in any direction even though my eyes, head, and most of my body were visibly shaking.

I thought I was hallucinating, but after the euphoria wore off a bit, I realized that it made sense since the software has an adjustment for each gesture that tells it at what point or threshold to start kicking in. Brilliant, that's exactly what I needed. It was kind of like a squelch control that defines your tolerance or threshold. So I adjusted the facial gestures that I thought were most practical for me with the same kind of fine tuning that a musician does with their mixing board or equalizer.

In all my excitement, I never ended up reading the user guide or manual so there might be things there that are useful which I haven't discovered yet, but that's all gravy because the fact that I can use my mouse again and that I have such detailed control over each gesture's characteristics and behavior is all that I need to feel productive once again. Using the latest version of Dragon's NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software with a high quality microphone and now this software to control my mouse, I can do anything I need sometimes even quicker and easier than if I had full access to my hands!

Is there any downside?

I'm trying to think if there's anything negative that I can say about this solution. About the only thing I can think of that sometimes trips me up is that if I am talking to someone or I'm on the phone, then I need to be careful to not make facial expressions that can affect my mouse. That is why I tried to choose gestures that I don't normally use, or put the mouse to sleep when not using it. In the beginning, I made the mistake of using smile as my click action trigger. You can imagine the comical, Abbott and Costello-like effect that had.

My recommendation

I understand that this might sound like a commercial for this company's product, but I can assure you that I have no financial benefits or interests whatsoever from writing this story, or otherwise. I just feel that by stumbling onto probably the only viable solution for Parkinson's patients or others with similar symptoms, I almost have a moral obligation to share this with the 10 million+ Parkinson's sufferers worldwide. I already shared it with my neurologist and I'm considering other ways of letting this community know that there is not only hope there is a solution at hand for those whose lives are enriched through their computer.

Thanks,
Eyal

NOTE: Headlines and emphasizing inserted by editor for easier reading.


Georg (Germany)

Can you describe your condition?

“I have Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, a hereditary disease that leads to the degradation of muscular tissue. It is a lethal condition. Due to increasing knowledge in the area of home care and respiration the life expectancy of people with DMD has increased tremendously.”

“I can't move anything except for my fingers and toes. The movement of my head is limited to a few centimeters to the left and to the right and up and down. The facial muscles are not affected very much so there are not many disturbances. Due to my dependency on machinal respiration I have to use a nose-mask which slightly limits the possible number of switches provided by KinesicMouse.”

How do you benefit from the KinesicMouse?

“Gaming often requires quick actions and reactions. Additionally many games require lots of keys to be pushed and there are still many game developers who don't put much emphasis towards the inclusion of accessibility features in their products. This has not necessarily to do with wantoness but rather with unawareness about how easy accessibility features can be implemented if these are taken into consideration early in the development process of a game. There are hundreds of thousands of possible buyers who would benefit from more accessibility in games. This fact often is overlooked by developers and that is the reason why tools like KinesicMouse will be around for a long time.”

“KinesicMouse offers a great number of facial expressions to be used in order to perform actions. It increases my mobility significantly and speeds up the time it takes to set up myself when I want to play video games. Better reaction times, more access to controls and more independence from external help. I'm using KinesicMouse for gaming and mouse button actuation. Time will tell if there will be more tasks for which I'll use it. Actually I can think of a number of additional situations to make use of KinesicMouse such as composing music and making graphics. ”

Would you recommend the KinesicMouse to other people in the same condition?

“Yes, I would because I believe that everybody should at least know what accessibility tool do exist and there is no reason why someone should not try out what is already there. KinesicMouse is a powerful tool that makes gaming easy even with a disability.”

What are the top three facial expressions in the KinesicMouse?

  • eye blink
  • eyebrows center
  • smile left and right

Which input devices do you use to control your PC?

“Right now I'm using Enable Viacam headmouse for mouse activity and Voice Activated Commands for speech recognition in video games and Windows itself. For my toes I'm using custom built double switches. The Windows on screen keyboard is part of my toolset as well as professional dictation software.”


Quoc (USA)

Quoc from the US using the KinesicMouse

Can you describe your condition?

“I have a disease called Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic defect that deteriorates musculoskeletal system. I have very little movements in my fingers and I am able to slightly tilt my head left and right. I have almost full facial muscles movements.”

How do you benefit from the KinesicMouse?

“I use the KinesicMouse only for games since I can use a physical mouse and an on-screen keyboard to do everything else. Before the KinesicMouse, I was limited to games that only required a mouse and very limited inputs. Games such as World of Warcraft can't be played competitively with just a few inputs. The KinesicMouse opens up some possibilities since I can bind more keys with it. Most first- person shooter games are very difficult to play with just my physical setup, but having the KinesicMouse helps with more key bindings.”

Would you recommend the KinesicMouse to other people in the same condition?

“The KinesicMouse (as of version 2.1) offers a little over 50 inputs based on different head movements and facial expressions. Personally I value each input to be worth EUR 50. If someone can use at least 10 inputs out of the 50+ available, I would say that the KinesicMouse is worth EUR 500. You can use this strategy to decide if the KinesicMouse is worth your money.”

“Fortunately, you don't have to take my words for it, because there's a 14-day trial! I definitely recommend anybody with limited locomotion to at least give the KinesicMouse a try. Be sure that if you purchase the Kinect, you're able to return it if the KinesicMouse isn't what you expected.”

“Here are some things that everyone should know before trying or buying this software. The KinesicMouse currently lacks documentation. However, this is not a problem for me since the developer is very responsive to questions/support. Furthermore, the KinesicMouse idles at around 65% CPU usage on a i5-2500k, so it will theoretically impact performance if you're playing games that require heavy use of the CPU.”

What are the top three facial expressions in the KinesicMouse?

  • eyebrows raise
  • lips pucker
  • eye open left/right

Which input devices do you use to control your PC?

“I use a 2-button mouse in my left hand, a button in my right hand, and 2 buttons on the sides of my head. These 3 mechanical buttons are connected to a switch interface that simulates keyboard functions. I use an onscreen keyboard for text input. I use Autohotkey extensively to maximize the functionality of the 3 buttons, mostly for games. I have not replace any software or devices with the KinesicMouse, but it helps having more inputs. Possibly in the future I might replace the 2 buttons on the sides of my head with KinesicMouse head tilt.”


Dylan is using the KinesicMouse with a ventilator atteched to his nose

Dylan (Canada)

Can you describe your condition?

“I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). I just recently lost the ability to use my keyboard because my left hand has lost all function. I can only use my index finger and thumb on my right hand to control my gaming mouse buttons, the only stregth I have to move my arm and wrist is leverage from my elbow on my wheelchairs armrest.”

How do you benefit from the KinesicMouse?

“This software benefits me with the ability to play everything I had to stop playing because of the loss of function. I've played Battlefield 4 which I never thought I would play again. I also regained the function to play League of Legends. KinesicMouse has reopened the full functionality of every aspect of one of my favorite games.”

Would you recommend the KinesicMouse to other people in the same condition?

“Yes, I would recommend it. With DMD the muscles lose strength and causes the limbs to develop contractures, slowly making it impossible to use your hands. With this software I can control all the games I lost the ability to play and the games I have wanted to play.”

“Getting setup on the computer can be very frustrating for the user and the person assisting. When a millimeter means everything to be able to use a keyboard or mouse, it is very difficult to explain to the person helping how much to move your arms and hands. This software removes the problem of absolute perfect positioning of the hands, making it easier to use the computer by cutting the time it takes to get on.”

What are the top three facial expressions in the KinesicMouse?

  • eyebrows
  • head rotation
  • mouth smile

Which input devices do you use to control your PC?

“I use a Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse, Windows On-Screen Keyboard and Voice Activated Commands.(VAC). Replaced VAC with KinesicMouse.”


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