CYBERSPACE, 2004 (D.O.T.) - Has the era of hands-free Web-surfing arrived?

Dmitry Gorodnichy, an inventor from the Institute of Information Technology in Ottawa, has developed a computer navigation system that relies on the movements of a user’s nose as a cursor.

For good measure, a simple blink of the right or left eye, corresponds to the right or left click of a mouse button.

The inventor expects the nose-steered mouse, or “nouse” will make using a computer easier for people with disabilities or for video game fans who would like to slay bad guys with the bob of the head and blink of an eye.

The technology works in conjunction with a single Webcam. The “nouse’s” Webcam takes a snapshot of the user’s face, focusing in on the tip of the nose as the guide point. The nose was chosen because it is easier to track than other facial features, according to the inventor.

The technology matches the cursor’s movements to the path of the nose as the head moves from side to side. Motion detection software, meanwhile, is used to pinpoint the blink of a user’s eye. A double blink switches the “nouse” cursor on.

Computer experts have mixed reactions to the invention. Some see it as a step forward, while others are not so sure.

“I cannot ignore the high silliness factor of the ‘nouse,’” says Joe Laszlo, a technology analyst at Jupiter Research in New York . “People balk at doing things that require them to look silly. And there is ample room for looking silly here.”

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