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James Gips

Camera Mouse hits 100K download milestone


Camera Mouse, a program developed by Egan Professor of Computer Science James Gips that helps people with severe disabilities use a computer, was downloaded for the 100,000th time since being made available for free online in 2007.

Developed by Gips and former faculty member Margrit Betke (now at Boston University), Camera Mouse uses a webcam to track small movements of the head, which, in turn, control the computer. (Pictured above: Gips trains Camera Mouse on the inside corner of his eye.) As a mouse replacement system for Windows computers (it will also run on a Mac that runs Windows), Camera Mouse enables individuals who are unable to use hand controls to run computer software, including entertainment programs, education programs, communication programs, and Web browsers.

The Camera Mouse technology was originally licensed by Boston College to a start-up company that failed. Boston College retracted the license, and Gips and Betke decided to develop a version of the program that would be available free, in order to “help as many people as possible,” says Gips.

In June 2007, was launched with the support of volunteers and computer science department alumni Matt McGowan ’93 and Don Green ’93. Since then, individuals from around the world, including those suffering from cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and neurological disorders, have benefited.

A testimonial section of the Web site reveals the program’s global reach, with comments from Australia, India, and Norway, and from users (“Camera Mouse has changed my life.”) to parents of users (“It gives the school that she is attending a way to adapt the curriculum so that she can participate in a REGULAR preschool.") to health-care professionals (“I work quite a bit [with] patients requiring head control of a mouse to access their computers following TBI or spinal cord injury … thank you for your contribution to this community.”).

“I am thrilled that there have been 100,000 downloads of Camera Mouse since we posted a free version,” Gips says. “With every download, we move closer to our goal of helping as many people as we can with this software.”