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The TouchFree Switch offers physically-challenged kids a new way to interact with the computer. Combining a digital video camera with switch software, it allows students who are unable to control a mouse to use a wide variety of compatible software featuring built-in switch scanning.
Users install the small, unobtrusive IBM digital camera, and place it on a flat surface somewhere near the computer, in clear view of the body part that will be used to trigger the switch. They then install the TouchFree Switch software. At this point a triggering body movement is chosen. This can be a very slight movement, like the lifting of a finger, opening of a mouth, or tapping of a foot. It must be a high contrast, distinctive movement that is recognized by the camera, and users can play around with this until they find one that is reliable and works well within their individual constraints. The TouchFree software is then used to capture the motion and set it to send mouse clicks to the computer.
Users must initially install the IBM PC camera software. This process is a little confusing, since the installation window offers multiple software program options. We chose to install the IBM PC camera software only. After restarting the computer, we plugged in the camera, which was instantly recognized and installed by Windows. Next the TouchFree Switch software is installed.
At this point, users must tackle the more difficult task of setting up the triggering motion. We recommend allowing a considerable amount of time with this to ensure that the triggering motion is easily reproduced upon command.
Users can set the software so that the camera window will always be on top when multiple windows are open at once. This helps ensure that the triggering movement will be repeated accurately every time, since the user can actually watch the movement and adjust it as needed. Unfortunately one of the software titles we tested with this product would not allow another open window to exist on top, making this option useless. Users can additionally control the size of the setup window, pause the camera, adjust image quality, and set the software to make a sound with each mouse click.
Finally, compatible software must be set to allow single switch scanning. This can be accomplished in the options portion of the specific program.
PC: Windows 98, USB-ready PC, Pentium 166 or better, 7 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, Super VGA graphics, 640x480, 256 color display, CD-ROM drive, High-quality USB camera (included).return to top of page
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