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Thread: Feedback requested on if alternative computer and gaming input device will be helpful

  1. #1

    Exclamation Feedback requested on if alternative computer and gaming input device will be helpful

    I'm a solo indie computer programmer and recently had a discussion (link) that sparked an idea that I'm contemplating creating as one of my part time projects over the next year or so. I'm fairly new to knowing all the products that are already on the market and also if this particular idea would be useful.

    The idea is basically to turn any phone's accelerometer and gyro into being able to assist with controlling a computer by attaching the phone to the head with one of the common cheap head straps. One can then tilt their head in directions to either simulate the mouse or a joystick or bind the nodding to keyboard keys. I realize that for general purpose computing there are solutions like http://www.quadstick.com/ and dragon voice recognition products that can help with most tasks. While this can assist with typing and other common computing tasks, it seems a little difficult to use for gaming (where normally two joysticks would be needed). Also, for some power programs with heavy use of hotkeys like photoshop it would be much slower to use those solutions.

    I envision (but maybe I'm wrong) that this would be most useful to those that have some mobility enough to use a mouse in one hand and their head can supplement the other tasks (either act as the second joystick in gaming, or be bindable to any keys or hotkeys). It certainly could be used if one only has control of the head for mouse and clicking, but the above mentioned quad stick would probably be a better fit for those cases (except if the high cost was an issue).

    Very unfamiliar with the product landscape so perhaps something already meets this need, or perhaps it wouldn't be as helpful as I'd envision, so I welcome any comments, thoughts, or advice anyone can provide. Also links to other common forums to perhaps reach out and ask more people if they think this would help, or links to products that already exist that I'm not aware of.
    Last edited by greggtwep16; 09-05-2016 at 12:25 PM.

  2. #2
    I've looked pretty far back into this forums history and there were some products in this space that were helpful to see. However, I've yet to find one that goes beyond using either the head or gaze tracking to be the mouse input. That particular space seems to be pretty well covered and even products that combine the mouse with either voice or an onscreen keyboard for basic computer operation. Head mouse, logitech, etc. all seem to stop at that juncture.

    I guess what I'm unsure of is if many people need beyond that. The main driver that I envision is gaming beyond fairly simple games like candy crush, solitaire, etc. Most more complicated games require on a controller either two joysticks, or both a mouse and a keyboard. What I envision would enable the head to be that second joystick, but I'm unsure if there is actually a demand for this.

    Secondarily, every product that I've seen so far goes after the mouse only (besides quadstick but it's joystick left a bit to be desired). This grants basic operation but in some cases it doesn't help speed of use because with on screen keyboards it's very time consuming. Being able to be flexible in the bindings like sometimes have a nod yes binded to the enter key, or nod to the left being shift, ctrl, or whatever hotkey you want at least to me seems like it could really speed things up. Especially, if you combined it with one of these other devices. Also, it seems to be that most of these products except the ones that are thousands of dollars don't provide much in the way of tuning (sensitivity sliders, noise correction, etc.) they tend stop at the basic control which helps reinforce the fact that you can do the actions, but not as fast as if individual tuning could take place.

    The last discrepancy I see is cost. The cheapest device that I've found is $300 and the most expensive was $3500. Granted some of the awesome technology used is quite expensive from a hardware perspective, but it seems to me that at least giving the option of a software only product that sat on top of a smartphone that most people already have can eliminate that expensive hardware making the cost more likely in the $100 or less ballpark. Obviously, it doesn't fit every persons needs but it at least becomes an option and one that is easier to afford.

    I'd love anyone's input, perhaps I'm not actually in touch with what is needed or perhaps I've missed a product that doesn't have these drawbacks. Any comments would certainly be appreciated.

  3. #3

    Exclamation Feedback requested on if alternative computer and gaming input device will be helpful

    Any comments even if negative would be helpful. I certainly want to make sure to get a lot of feedback on what would be most helpful.
    Last edited by greggtwep16; 09-07-2016 at 01:05 AM.

  4. #4
    Bring back the analogue game port? It still exists in Super IO and supported by GNU/Linux and X.Org. Very simple to build hardware that can be custom made for users.

    http://www.nxp.com/documents/data_sheet/NE558_3.pdf

    http://www.epanorama.net/documents/j..._joystick.html
    Last edited by zagam; 01-23-2017 at 05:23 AM. Reason: Can still get the chip

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by zagam View Post
    Bring back the analogue game port? It still exists in Super IO and supported by GNU/Linux and X.Org. Very simple to build hardware that can be custom made for users.

    http://www.nxp.com/documents/data_sheet/NE558_3.pdf

    http://www.epanorama.net/documents/j..._joystick.html
    Nowadays, with the prevalence of common wireless stacks (wifi, bluetooth) integrating with the game port that most machines don't have anymore can be bypassed. I have gotten some limited feedback from 2 people but am still trying to get feedback from more people to solidify a product that would help out gamers and power users. Regardless of the underlying technology, I would love to hear what you currently use, what you like about it and what you don't. Also, what you feel would be the ideal device in terms of functionality.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by greggtwep16 View Post
    Nowadays, with the prevalence of common wireless stacks (wifi, bluetooth) integrating with the game port that most machines don't have anymore can be bypassed. I have gotten some limited feedback from 2 people but am still trying to get feedback from more people to solidify a product that would help out gamers and power users. Regardless of the underlying technology, I would love to hear what you currently use, what you like about it and what you don't. Also, what you feel would be the ideal device in terms of functionality.
    Though the game port hardware exists it is often not bought out to a 15-way connector and it may no longer be supported by Microsoft which does not concern me at all. USB HID keyboard may be easier. You can just interface switches to a USB HID keyboard encoder chip.

    https://www.ablenetinc.com/

    The games I play involve a Happy Hacking Keyboard to write scripts to manage my assortment of very big hammers. I am using Debian GNU/Linux and X.Org XDMCP.

    http://www.nongnu.org/ratpoison/ Works with keyboard.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twm Works with 3 button mouse.

    https://www.gnu.org/software/screen/ works with console keyboard.

    WiFi and BlueTooth?

    BlueTooth integrates with USB, but USB is more reliable.

    We only issue analogue wired headsets, that we screen for low distortion in order to protect user hearing. I.e. these are an impedance much higher than the minimum recommended for the equipment.

    If users insist on BlueTooth we will get them. Got a call about a call being taken to the toilet.

    Even though there is no evidence of harm I still don't like the idea of a microwave being stuck in your ear.
    Last edited by zagam; 01-27-2017 at 01:21 AM. Reason: Added X11 and Console options

  7. #7
    Regardless of the medium (USB, gameport, bluetooth, etc.) when I look at the product landscape my main critique isn't with the medium used but rather it is with the fact that everything is so expensive and custom and usually goes all the way to the hardware end (and hence costs a lot of money). I fully realize that everybody has a different level of disability and as such there is no one size fits all but I see relatively few software ecosystems around the most popular disability devices or generic hardware that could easily provide solutions for a good percentage of people in the sub $100 range.

    For those that have the money or good insurance that will actually help pay for products something custom that is expensive is an option, but I worry that there are number of people that don't have this luxury and are accepting that computers are harder to use than they need to be.

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