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Assistive Haptic Tools

Any place where the edge of experimental technology pushes into the mainstream market is the occasional rough intersection. This has been true in the quest for a tactile computer interface, something useful for kinesthetic learners and essential for the visually impaired. It has been a trick to coordinate hardware and software at a cost that was not prohibitive. But developers seem to have done it.

In an excellent pairing, Immersion Desktop software has been incorporated into the Logitech iFeel MouseMan to create a haptic interface that works with Windows 98, Windows 2000, Internet Explorer, and Netscape. Users feel resistance or vibration that is triggered each time the cursor encounters buttons, windows, links, and icons. In short, the mouse-mover can navigate by feel. For those who want a bit more help, the iFeelPixel Web site offers free software downloads for audio and texture add-ins, supported by Logitech and Immersion.

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