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Office of News & Public Affairs

Camera Mouse Software Reaches 100,000th Download Milestone

adaptive technology developed at boston college aids disabled around the world

Chestnut Hill, MA (March 3, 2010) –  Camera Mouse, an adaptive software program that has given thousands of people with disabilities around the world the ability to use personal computers for the first time, has been downloaded for the 100,000th time since it was released for free by the Boston College professor who co-developed the technology.

The milestone 100,000th download was reached just three years after Boston College Professor James Gips took the adaptive software program he and a colleague designed and put it up on the web (www.cameramouse.org) to access at no cost. For people who cannot use hand or voice command tools to control a computer cursor, Camera Mouse tracks head movements to execute commands.

camera mouseNotes of thanks have come to Gips from users throughout the United States and Canada, as well as from countries including Australia, Czech Republic, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand and Norway and the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Education in Ireland has adopted the technology to serve disabled students and Paralyzed Veterans of America and France’s Association des Paralyses have praised the software.

“Having ALS and not being able to move my arms, Camera Mouse has changed my life,” wrote Victor Boudolf, Jr., of Charleston, South Carolina.

For Gips, the Egan Professor of Computer Science in the Carroll School of Management, to see people in need across the globe embrace the software he co-created with former BC colleague Margrit Betke, has been an ample reward.

“We are thrilled that there have been 100,000 downloads of Camera Mouse since we posted a free version on the web,” Gips said. “Our goal is to help as many people as we can with this software. We have heard from people all around the world who have found the software beneficial for themselves or for family members or friends or students or clients with disabilities.”

camera mouseThe software is now being downloaded at a rate of 5,000 times a month by people like 32-year-old Jacqui Rogers, of Melbourne, Australia, who was born with severe Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
 
“After continuing to search for about a year, I discovered … Camera Mouse,” Rogers wrote to Gips. “This program … has changed my life! … I'm so thankful to the guys who developed Camera Mouse. It's awesome!”

The download milestone may have seemed all the more unlikely after a start-up company licensed to sell Camera Mouse went out of business about five years ago. Boston College reclaimed the license and Gips and his team decided to upgrade the original software and turn to free distribution online.

Even today, the website goes to great lengths to tell visitors that a technology many users describe as life-changing is just a free click away.

“Part of our challenge is to convince people that this software is free, that there are no hidden costs or advertisements, and that our motive is simply to be of help,” said Gips.

Gips credits two alumni – Don Green ’94 and Matt McGowan ‘97, both graduates of the Computer Science Department – with many hours of volunteer labor on the program.

Green marvels that the program has surpassed the 100,000 download mark.

“It’s a little frightening,” said Green, now vice president of business development for Biocius Life Sciences in Woburn. “We always worried how to support it if it got real big. The trick is keeping it simple enough, while providing the right functionality.”

Since it was released less than 3 years ago, people with Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, various neurological disorders have used the program and to run all types of computer software.

Even though the idea of giving something away for free might seem anathema to a business school, Camera Mouse fits with the ideals and traditions of the Carroll School.

“Because of Jim’s work with Camera Mouse, there are 100,000 people around the world able to use technology to communicate with loved ones and caregivers, to study for school or to pursue their careers because they can now access the power of their personal computers,” said Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School. “The success of Camera Mouse is a testament to Jim’s ground-breaking research and his firm belief that technology can improve people’s lives. His work serves as a powerful reminder that as a Jesuit, Catholic school of management we prepare our students not just for successful careers, but to serve others in times of need.”

--Ed Hayward, Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs, ed.hayward@bc.edu