Cyrano de Begerac could have been inspired to scribe romantic volumes using his prominent nose with this innovation. The Nouse is a perceptual user interface that is controlled via the user's nose and is specifically designed for users with disabilities as well as having important implications for three dimensional video games.
The Computational Video Group at NRC-IIT (Canada's National Research Council- Institute for Information Technology) has developed the innovative interface by approaching it from the point of view of face tracking. They've designed a vision-based perceptual user interface to provide a hands-free alternative to a mouse or joystick.
Invented by Dmitry Gorodnichy, the trade-marked 'Nouse' with the slogan "use your face as a mouse", uses the motion of the head to control a cursor. Blinking one's eyes takes the place of the left and right mouse buttons. Based on the most recent advances in computer vision and pattern recognition, the Nouse is the most precise and robust face tracking technology developed to date. Using inexpensive off-the-shelf web cameras, Nouse tracks the motion of the face, precisely pinpointing with the nose any pixel on a screen. The nose then becomes the mouse or the joystick and, hands-free, users can select menu items or play interactive games.
For two-dimensional applications like word processing or other office applications, the Nouse works with a single web-cam, plugged into a PC's USB port. Tracking software monitors the image to work out where a user's nose is pointing. It generates signals that move the cursor around the screen. The motion detection software works out which eye is blinking to simulate a mouse click.
The Nouse's camera takes a snapshot of the user at the start of each session. From this snapshot it isolates about 25 pixels that represent the tip of the nose and takes readings for the brightness of each pixel. The Nouse software then tracks the pattern of pixels.
To begin, a double blink switches the Nouse on. Its software then scans the region where the nose was last, looking for the 25-pixel target. When the target is established, its movements are translated into the same signals that would be expected from a normal mouse.
Gorodnichy and his team have designed several software packages to demonstrate the Nouse, including an application which allows the user to draw patterns on the screen. The Nouse can also be used to navigate around 3D computer software, such as virtual design environments and games, but this kind of application requires two web-cams. In 3D mode, both cameras pinpoint the tip of the nose and the Nouse software calculates how far away the user is, and whether they are moving into, or out of, the environment. For computer users with disabilities, the Nouse could eliminate the need for obtrusive or expensive interaction devices. The Nouse also allows multiple-user interaction. Other potential applications include video-coding, video-conferencing and content-based image retrieval. Vision-based face tracking could have important applications in the security industry where, among other advantages, it could provide the means for operating security cameras automatically and unobtrusively.
We only hope there's a feature to correct parallax error for user's with a Bergerac type affliction.