A Japanese company has done a bit of thinking on its feet to come up with a new design for the humble computer mouse.
In our online world, completing a job is just a click away. But for some, using a mouse at work can be impossible.
Takeshi Aramaki is a doctor who treats cancer patients. He needs to keep his hands free during medical procedure. So he wanted a special foot-operated mouse to check CT scans while his hands control a catheter.
"I can find the images I need instantly, so it's less stressful," Aramaki says.
The foot-mouse he uses was developed by this machine-design firm in Mishima, central Japan. Hideaki Nagashima worked in the manufacturing industry before he set up the company, called Be Alive, 8 years ago. He has developed more than 200 products to fill a wide range of needs.
"We specialize in making equipment that helps people perform tasks that are tough," says Nagashima, the firm's president.
He has been working on an upgrade to the foot mouse, and says refining the controls was the hardest part.
A wrong kick could easily send it too far. By redesigning the space between the balls and their housing, the movement can be reduced significantly.
Nagashima also reworked the left-click button. He made it easier to click by moving it to the middle.
He believes the new model could prove useful for people with disabilities, too.
Students at Shizuoka Nanbu Special Needs Education School had been using another type of foot-mouse. But it's difficult for some, as you need to lift their heel from the floor.
The teachers found Nagashima's design to be more user-friendly.
"Children should not have to give up on their dreams just because of some physical challenge," Nagashima says. "It would be great if this mouse helps someone create something to benefit the world."
One doctor's specialized request has led to a product that opens up new possibilities for many users.