BT’s new balancing act

1 May 2007

British Telecom (BT) has developed new technology, the BT Balance System, which eliminates the need for a mouse or keyboard on your laptop.

The Balance System was developed using an accelerometer chip, similar to the motion-sensing technology used in the Nintendo Wii console.

In the same way that the human ear interprets movement in order to balance, the accelerometer tells the computer which way is up and interprets tilting and translates it into navigation onscreen.

It can be connected to any standard laptop or tablet PC through USB, and allows users to access and navigate programs by simply moving the mobile device around.

“The technology has obvious implications for those who are disabled or elderly and have difficulty using a fiddly laptop keyboard or mouse,” said Adam Oliver, head of age and disability research at BT.

“Standard ways of controlling PC applications can be too complicated so we decided to use the analogy of a book to work with. What we ended up with gives you the same look and feel of picking up a book and reading it but in a 3-D digital format,” he said.

According to Oliver, the software is extremely adaptable and the user can easily programme tilting or tipping to do specific task like make or receive incoming internet calls.

The Balance System is part of BT’s Age and Disability Research programme. Other projects include improved laptop and broadband accessibility for those with limited movement, such as arthritis sufferers, or outdoors workers wearing thick gloves.

By Marie Boran