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Hands-free computing

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Hands-free computing is a term used to describe a configuration of computers so that they can be used by persons without the use of the hands interfacing with commonly used human interface devices such as the mouse and keyboard. Hands-free computing is important because it is useful to both able and disabled users. For example, Speech recognition systems can be trained to recognize specific commands and upon confirmation of correctness instructions can be given to systems without the use of hands. This may be useful while driving or to an inspector or engineer in a factory environment. Likewise disabled persons may find hands-free computing important in their everyday lives.

Alternative control methods can range from using the tongue, lips, mouth, movement of the head to voice activated interfaces utilizing speech recognition software and a microphone or bluetooth technology.

Examples of available hands-free computing devices include mouth-operated joystick types such as the TetraMouse, the QuadJoy, the Jouse2 and the IntegraMouse and camera based head tracking systems such as SmartNav, Tracker Pro, FreeTrack, HeadMouse Extreme and HeadMaster. The joystick types require no physical connections to the user and enhances the user's feeling of independence. Camera types require targets mounted on the user, usually with the help of a caregiver, that are sensed by the camera and associated software. Camera types are sensitive to ambient lighting and the mouse pointer may drift and inaccuracies result from head movements not intended to be mouse movements. Other examples of hands-free mice are units that are operated using switches that may be operated by the feet (or other parts of the body), such as the NoHands Mouse and the switch-adapted TetraMouse.