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Wall Street Journal Honors IBM’s New Mouse Adapter

As part of its second annual innovative technology contest, the Wall Street Journal has singled out the Assistive Mouse Adapter, invented at IBM Research.   The Assistive Mouse Adapter allows people that suffer from hand tremors caused by age or disease to use a personal computer.

The Wall Street Journal contest named the Assistive Mouse Adapter a runner up in the Medical Devices Category.   Other award-winners in that category include GE Healthcare, for technology that can image the heart in just five beats; Clozex Medical, for a device that can close wounds without needles; and, the overall winner, Optimyst Systems, for an eye-medication device that emits a fine mist rather than eye drops.

This year’s contest drew more than 750 entries from two dozen countries.

Now available for sale through the British firm of Montrose Secam Limited, the Assistive Mouse Adapter is perfect for use in homes, offices, libraries and universities.

As many as 10 million people in the United States alone suffer from Essential Tremor, the most common cause of involuntary hand movement, which worsens with age.   Hand tremors, which are also caused by inherited conditions or diseases like Parkinson’s, make it very difficult for people to use a PC.   Simple tasks like opening an email or navigating the Web become almost impossible because of the erratic movements of the cursor on the screen.

The adapter, which filters out excessive cursor movements, is part of the IBM effort to make information technology accessible to users, regardless of their age or ability.

James Levine, an expert in interactive computer technology, invented the mouse adapter after watching his uncle – whose hands shake – use a computer.

Dr. Levine shared his idea at an IBM Academy of Technology workshop on information technology for seniors, and then embarked on 18 months of research and development in partnership with Cathy Bodine’s Assistive Technology Partners at the University of Colorado.   The team tested the device in focus groups with seniors with great success.

Dr. Levine said of the Wall Street Journal award “It’s always nice to get an award.  But the real fun is in watching the mouse adapter help seniors be able to use a computer again.”

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