Hawking’s secret arsenal: control your computer with a webcam

Of human invention can find a lot of amazing discoveries that will literally affect the story. Wheel, writing, electricity – can raise man to a new stage of development. Many of these inventions are the same to this day – cars still drive on four wheels, and writing, as well as thousands of years ago, uses basically the letter.

Getting used to make the discovery, one quickly begins to see them as a matter of course. Take, for example, such a means of entering information such as the mouse and keyboard. It is hard to imagine anything more comfortable and versatile than the two devices laquo; obscheniyaraquo, with the computer. Still, some enthusiasts continue to seek alternative means of standard input. Give one word answer to the question why they need it, is impossible. This search for a more comfortable life in the interface between the computer and the development of sophisticated means of computerized management systems, and, of course, creating a device that would make life easier for physically handicapped people.

Imagine how science might lose, do not use Stephen Hawking, one of the most prominent theoretical physicists, their electronic gadgets! Almost completely paralyzed, he can communicate with students and to conduct scientific deyatelnostnbsp, for a complex electronic system of tracking its only muscle that can move.

We believe that, as the most important consumers of software to control the computer with a web camera are people with disabilities, they must be distributed solely for free. Unfortunately, not all developers agree with this point of view, and often you can find similar applications distributed on a commercial basis. We intentionally did not include any of these developments in our review, preferring free solution.

The Camera Mouse 2011

  • Developer: Camera Mouse
  • Size: 6.2 MB
  • Distribution: Free
  • Russian interface: No

Of the tool is based on the definition of the control of the image produced by the camera. As a subsidiary of a guide to some useful utilities bright label. This tag can be, for example, visor caps, mount points, and so on.

The picky of the device used, and it can work with almost any web camera or other video source.

Unlike other applications that are designed to control the computer with the camera, the software Camera Mouse 2011 can be used not only for tracking faces. You can assign a label, such as the hand, fingers, and so on.

As in other programs used to control the cursor with the web camera, the position of the mouse pointer is often unstable. Cursor and then tries to move away, sometimes it just laquo; tantsuetraquo; around some areas of the screen, even esli vypolnyaetnbsp the user, and no movement. The reason for this effect – in high accuracy positioning the cursor. Position identification check mark on the screen – the problem is quite complicated. In practice, it gives the image quality is not always sufficient for satisfactory data.

To program more or less confidently controlled the mouse, it is necessary that a high-quality camera optics, as well as to the user’s face was well lit. The tracking is performed in real time, so when sudden movements by the utility can simply laquo; poteryatraquo, point tracking, and the cursor will move to the side.

The Camera Mouse 2011 provides a range of options designed to minimize errors in the keys. For example, you can control the speed of the cursor – the better the system works, the laquo; mobilneeraquo, maybe the mouse. Moreover, controlling the speed of the cursor can be in two ways, by setting values ??for the vertical and horizontal velocity.

To minimize shake the cursor, you can use the smooth movement by setting the averaging coordinates. In this mode, the cursor will become inert, and the way it laquo; tormozheniyaraquo, will be longer.

If you work with any document, such as typing in the editor Word, excessive activity can interfere with the cursor. Therefore, in the settings Camera Mouse 2011 can set a limit area on which the cursor will not move.

The most important action to be performed by a virtual manipulator – clicks the mouse (click, key press, etc.). Otherwise, cursor control would be useless fun. But how to implement these much needed commands, if a person, say, the disabled, barely turn his head? Do not make it laquo; risovatraquo, nose in the air special gesture! And the cursor goes on – all the time and tries to shift to the side. Exit – do laquo; automatic klikraquo.; Once the cursor is in the link, the user only has to hold it for a while in this position, and the program after a specified interval in the utility performs emulation of a mouse button. By and large, this method has its drawbacks – should leave alone for a second cursor, for example to start dating with their web page, as the self-timer starts counting the time, and then may have occurred by chance following a link or some mindless clicking browser button .

Double-clicking in the Camera Mouse 2011, in our view, is not made very well. This feature is implemented using an additional button in the interface window.

Enable Viacam (eViacam) 1.5.1

  • Developer: Cesar Mauri Loba
  • Size: 7.8 MB
  • Distribution: Free
  • Russian interface: No

Setting Enable Viacam made as a step by step wizard. If the previous program focused on a particular label, Enable Viacam laquo; ischetraquo, the picture a person’s face. Just how exactly she did it, can be seen in the red box, which is a real-time moves following the movements of the user’s head.

To program accidentally performed some action on your computer in the absence of a user in the settings Enable Viacam can set automatic shutdown monitoring activity. One need only program laquo; poteryatraquo, face- and after a few seconds the remote control cursor stops.

Cursor control algorithm, implemented in Enable Viacam, causes the mouse pointer to move more smoothly than in the case of Camera Mouse 2011. Enable Viacam settings allow you to control the priority of the process.

And yet, compared to the previous tool, the program much easier to implement the principle of working with mouse buttons. To select the action that you can perform with a manipulator, a special panel Enable Viacam, which appears at the top of the desktop. With the functions imposed on the panel, virtual mouse can be converted into drag mode windows, perform simulations pressing her left, right and even the middle button.

Tweaking keystrokes is the same as in the Camera Mouse 2011 – set the time delay, after which, if the cursor is at rest, the program emulates a mouse click. The user to be sure that pressing occurred, the event is accompanied by a beep.

Each time you press the software translates virtual mouse in the standard mode. In this mode, the mouse does not cause any laquo; vredaraquo – the user simply moves the cursor.

Whatever was comfortable working with a virtual mouse, no keyboard on the computer to work very hard. Enable Viacam quickly cause the onscreen keyboard, and it can be like a standard keyboard system and alternative. Command to start it registers the user in the parameters of the program itself.

Program can run automatically with the system, but for convenience it provides for the use of profiles with different settings of the cursor. Enable Viacam can be installed on Windows, and on Linux.

Head Mouse 4.0

  • Developer: Indra
  • Size: 3.2 MB
  • Distribution: Free
  • Russian interface: No

This program was developed by members of the University of Lleida (Spain). Utility is not as precise cursor positioning, like, say, Enable Viacam, and the understanding of the work of this application will be more complicated than in the previous case – too weird interface, without prompts and text symbols. On the other hand, the Head Mouse has a lot of interesting features.


Exactly cursor program compensates with automatic calibration starts each pause or after a specified time interval.

Utility can be configured so that the cursor can be faster, slower, mirroring mode, the camera picture. Cursor movement can be absolute, when the position of the pointer is rigidly connected to a user gesture, or a relative, when the cursor to make more moves. In the corner of the screen constantly displays a picture with a webcam, which can be judged by how well targeted your face.

Another interesting feature of the Head Mouse – to identify the team executed over the user’s eyes or lips. In practice, proved to be very comfortable (as much as such a control should be considered as laquo; udobnymraquo ;) select text, winking one eye. The utility can take any action that can be realized by using a three-button mouse, and allows you to run these commands with a certain time lag.

The Head Mouse settings can even record keyboard macros that greatly simplify the implementation of the most frequently used commands. It looks like this: the user closes the eye- appears on the screen and a menu with several macros. By controlling the cursor, the user selects an item, and previously recorded command sequence automatically. For example, it may be often repeated text that a user sends a chat or mail, the usual daily work a combination of Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, and so on.

Only serious disadvantage that we could find in the course of this program – the need to disable the tracking of the user with the help of his very own person, a real mouse in this case, for some reason ignored.



Considered in the review of the program will seem just a game, but for some it becomes an integral part of existence. And yet, if we look at these programs from a different angle, you can see that many of them – the prototypes of future interfaces, which sooner or later will come into our lives. Devices that can be included gaze facial recognition, gesture intended to laquo; clever domaraquo, and much more – all this laquo; fantastikaraquo, just around the corner.

Discuss the material in the conference