Foot-tapping boosts laboratory efficiency

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

A new foot-controlled PC mouse aims to increase researchers'
efficiency by removing the need for repetitive glove removal and
hand washing before using laboratory computers.

One of the major drawbacks of the ever increasing amounts of automation and computer-controlled equipment used by researchers is the need to constantly remove gloves and wash hands to avoid contaminating electronic equipment. The Footime 'footmouse' developed by Bili Incorporated, aims to remove this problem by providing a foot-controlled mouse that uses an optical 'slipper' mouse to control the cursor and a user-programmable pedal that enables users to tie command sequences to specific buttons. According to the company, the footmouse answers a hitherto "unspoken, hidden, and unmet need"​. While some may question their ability to control a mouse accurately using their feet, the company argues that if someone can drive a car they can learn to drive a footmouse in no time "The original idea was inspired by a conversation with a composer who was always busy with both hands using midi keyboards to speed up his workflow,"​ said Tianhou Li, CEO of Bili. "We then realised that the footmouse could be used in a wide variety of applications, from helping people suffering from RSI (repetitive strain injury) to increasing efficiency in laboratories." ​ Li believes that the process of changing of gloves and washing hands before using laboratory computers is inconvenient and wastes gloves. Disposed-of gloves significantly contribute to the volume of laboratory waste that is becoming more and more expensive to dispose of as environmental regulations increase the price of disposal. The footmouse has been designed to work most Windows and Macintosh operating systems (OS) and connects directly into any available USB port. According to the company it can be used in conjunction with other control devices such as a conventional mouse and keyboard. The mouse can give a user up to ten user-definable buttons, as well as standard mouse controls. "The footmouse provides a very powerful and useful tool to help people working in the laboratory to be more efficient,"​ said Li. The footmouse is currently available through the company's website​.

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