Intelligent “Mouse” System for the Physically Challenged

2017 ELE Engineering Design Project (MK01)

Faculty Lab Coordinator

Mike Kassam

Topic Category

Intelligent Instrumentation


With the advent of smart sensors (e.g. MEMsic 3-D Accelerometers, Gyro, Magnetic, GPS, LED, InfraRed, Camera, etc.), the use of such miniaturized sensors are increasing in popularity in specialized gadgets to improve the quality of life of physically challenged kids and adults who are paralyzed from neck down or suffering from other severe physical limitations. The use of personal computer or gaming devices requiring use of a pointing device (e.g. mouse) is never a problem for most individuals, and the mobility skill required to operate a mouse is taken for granted. However, for person with reduced motor skills, such an essential pointing device can be extremely challenging to navigate if at all. Thus, some sort of an intelligent “Mouse” system properly designed can potentially provide for an effective solution to allow a physically-challenged person to emulate a mouse as long as the individual is able to move a single part of his/her body, like the head.  Such an intelligent “Mouse” system would need to emulate the Microsoft’s standard mouse protocol via the USB interface thereby allowing direct “Plug-and-Play”, hence not needing to have special mouse driver and/or an App running on a Personal Computer (PC). 


The key objective is to design and develop an intelligent “Mouse” system that incorporates a cap or helmet-like mechanical support with select sensors mounted on it, and together with use of smart algorithms, the unit would enable the user to effectively navigate the mouse pointer by tilting & rotating his/her head. The clicking and/or double-clicking functions can be incorporated using Puff-Sip straw switch to be provided. The smart sensors embedded subsystem in the head-support is wirelessly connected to a low-power microcontroller based base-station, which in turn is USB connected to a PC and emulates the standard mouse protocol.  To make the mouse interface seamless and reliable for the physically-challenged user, the design should incorporate proper algorithms to emulate the mouse functions so that spurious head-movements do not adversely affect the operation of any PC applications. The interface from the sensors to the base-unit may be done using wireless links.  

Partial Specifications

The system incorporates the following:
·       Head motion sensing technologies (digital and/or analog) to reliably measure and monitor tilt-angles and movements.
·       Use of low power embedded microcontrollers for local sensor interface on the helmet, and for the base station unit.
·       Wireless one-way data link between Head sensors and Base Station.
·       USB interface between base-unit and PC, with Plug-and-Play based on Microsoft’s standard mouse protocol.  That is, the base station unit seamlessly emulates the mouse-PC communication protocol used by a standard mouse.
·       A Puff-Sip straw switch (to be provided) that could allow the user to control the “click” & “double-click” functions using puff and sip actions.
·       Demonstrate use of the intelligent “Mouse” on a real application running on the PC.

Suggested Approach

·       Background research on human head mobility mechanics as these relate to tilting motions.
·       Research the operations of a Microsoft’s basic Standard Mouse, and the protocol standards used for communication between the mouse and PC.
·       Investigate various MEMS IC technology based accelerometer sensors, and their applicability for use in your “Mouse” design. Do the same for other potential alternate motion sensing technologies that could be applicable in your design.
·       Identify appropriate number and placements of the sensors on a mechanical cap-like support mechanism; and low-power embedded microcontroller for the sensors and wireless data transfer to the Base Station.
·       Investigate low power embedded microcontroller types for the Base Station unit, together with wired USB interface connection from the base-unit to PC.
·       Investigate, design and implement proper software structure to emulate the standard mouse communication protocols.
·       Investigate, analyze and develop proper algorithms to extract the correct motion variables for mouse emulation in a repeatable fashion.
·       Investigate software based signal conditioning and signal processing techniques to reliably discriminate spurious head motions.
·       Research various miniaturized wireless link technologies, and select the appropriate one for this application

Group Responsibilities

(1) research the background material for the underlying technologies; (2) development of the technical specifications, at least two system level design alternatives, identifying technical challenges and associated design strategies, and then selecting the best design alternative; (2) meeting the technical objectives, (3) seamless integration of the system, (4) design, implementation and testing of the system, and (5) preparing the final technical report.

Student A Responsibilities

To be determined with the FLC.

Student B Responsibilities

To be determined with the FLC.

Student C Responsibilities

To be determined with the FLC.

Course Co-requisites


MK01: Intelligent “Mouse” System for the Physically Challenged | Mike Kassam | Wednesday September 13th 2017 at 01:08 PM