Patients with diseases, disorders and conditions that cause significant tremors are now being given a helping hand to use a computer.
Germany-based Humanelektronik has just launched its AMAneo, an assistive mouse adapter which filters out shaky hand movements, explained marketing manager Ina Siemer. “This is a little box, which is inserted between the computer and the mouse, and is designed for people who experience tremoring, jittering or quivering of the hand,” she said. “This could be the case with diseases such as Parkinson’s or where someone has hyperthyroidism or essential tremors.” She explained:
The reason for the hand shaking is actually irrelevant: whatever the cause, the box filters the strong tremors electronically and enables the user to move the mouse cursor smoothly across the screen.
Humanelektronik develops and markets a range of adaptive and assistive technologies, including AAC products, environmental and wheelchair controls, assistance devices, workplace configuration products and gaze systems.
The AMAneo was developed over the past year with partner company CSS Micro Systems, also based in Germany. Siemer said:
We originally started to look into it when patients told us they were unable to use a mouse because they were shaking so much. They were unable to keep their hands steady long enough to be able to click on anything and that was restricting their use of computers.
A prototype was shown at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference in Orlando in January and subsequently, changes were made over the following months. The device, which retails for approximately €198 (before tax), is just 75mm x 75mm x 25mm. It has a USB interface and works with any mouse and any operating system without any software installation. With tablets, touchscreen control is replaced by a normal mouse or an alternative mouse, such as one offering head or chin control. Siemer said:
The anti-tremor filter is adjustable: depending on the way your hand is shaking (whether it is a strong quiver or a small one) you can adjust it to meet your needs.
The device also has a click delay so if a user clicks involuntarily because they are shaking too much, they can make a correction. Equally, if they hold the mouse for a long time over the same spot, the AMAneo will release a click.
To date, solutions for people suffering from hand tremors wishing to be able to use a computer have included voice recognition software; websites with specially designed large clickable areas and buttons to make scrolling easier; and keyboard features to replace a mouse. “As far as we are aware, however, nothing like the AMAneo exists,” said Siemer. She added:
Some of our users were not able to use a computer at all before or found that other solutions meant it took them a long time to navigate through websites. Now they can use an ordinary mouse and the feedback we are receiving from them is very good.
“What is still in development is the Bluetooth connection for iOS and PC or Android—but that should be coming next year,” she said.