Hat mouse

I've been playing around with orientation sensors and Bluetooth HID recently. Today I'd like to show you what is perhaps my most practical application of those yet. I made a head mouse, also known as an air mouse, or in my case, a hat mouse:

The device is attached to a hat and you move your head around to move the mouse cursor on the screen. It uses the standard Bluetooth mouse protocol so it works with Windows, Mac and Linux with no additional software running on the computer. The board used is Adafruit's Feather nRF52840 Sense. The way it works is it reads accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer data, puts it through a sensor fusion algorithm to get orientation and then uses the yaw and pitch values to position the mouse cursor on the screen. It uses absolute cursor positioning so any given head orientation corresponds to a fixed cursor position on the screen. To reset the center position, you press the "user switch" button on the board.

Here's the Arduino code. In addition to the Feather board we need some way to power it. I used this lipo battery, but the board can also be powered over the USB port so a small power bank could work as well.

As with some of my previous custom devices that work as a mouse, unfortuntely the hat mouse has no way of performing button clicks yet. In the video above I'm using a separate USB foot switch for clicking. Depending on the movement limitations of the user, something like a sip-and-puff switch might be more appropriate (same goes for the orientation reset button that's currently located on the board). The Feather nRF52840 Sense board has a lot of sensors in addition to those that we're currently using for the orientation. Perhaps the pressure sensor or the light sensor or even the microphone could be used to make entirely head-operated switches. I have some ideas, but I decided to treat that as a separate project.

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