Southampton Student Develops a Replacement for the Mouse

A British engineering student has developed a keypad interface that can hold up to 180 sequences instead of using your mouse.

Jacob Burge is an Electronic Engineering student at the University of Southampton with a passion for electronics. His website is full of projects he’s done for his own personal use along with client pieces, and now there’s one project he wants to share with the world. Frustrated with the amount of arm movement required to move his mouth back and forth during the course of a day, Jacob set to work out a different way to perform mouse functions with less required. His solution is the TouchPad, an Arduino-compatible and customizable keyboard accessory. Burge is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first batch of TouchPad assemblies.

TouchPad has thirty six keys that a user can access to make for faster workflow. Each of the keys can be assigned with up to five key presses using the text based editing program. Burge wanted to make sure that the system provided haptic feedback to give the user a notification that the key was pressed. Five different command sets for the 36 keys can be used, so a user theoretically has 180 different customizable functions combining keyboard, mouse, serial functions or MIDI actions. Users can either configure the keyboard and then print off the functions or use a marker on the transparent overlay. The system uses the ATmega32u4 microcontroller, and the footprint is 100 millimeters tall x 93 millimeters wide weighing in at 33 grams.

Every key has an individual backlight and the system also has a global power indicator. The system connects to a computer through USB 2.0 Micro B, and consumes 0.2 Watts of power. The campaign page does note that the keyboard was designed for UK users and based around the UK keyboard.

As a radical redesign for the computer mouse it’s hard to say whether or not this will revolutionize the computer industry, but for Jacob Burge it makes sense and boosts productivity. There are several applications shown on the campaign page, from desktop to tablet to laptop uses. The programming interface looks easy to use and configure and the software is open source allowing users to customize the TouchPad even more. The campaign ends on March 12 and if successful first units are expected to ship in June 2018.