Since its inception in the 80’s, the field of computer aided design has experienced numerous innovations in terms of both the software applications currently been used for design as well as the hardware tools available for drafting. Today, our focus will be placed on a particular innovation set to transform how we interact with a CAD workspace, and simplify the design process. This hardware tool is known as the foot mouse.
The Foot Mouse
As the name suggests, a foot mouse is a directional device or a type of computer mouse that can be used to move a cursor and other mouse buttons with your feet.
In lay man terms, a foot mouse can be compared to the foot sewing machine tailors make use of when sewing. And as in fashion, the foot mouse reduces the over-reliance on the fingers and the upper body problems—back ache, neck ache—that comes with spending hours on a design project.
How it Functions
Although there are approximately 10 types of foot mouse, the average foot mouse is made up of the following components:
- Either a flat foot surface that allows directional movements or
- A foot mouse designed as a tilting pedal which can also be turned in diverse directions
These components ensures that the user can perform clicking tasks by stepping on the pedal or foot surface as well as carry out 3 dimensional movements by rotating the foot mouse from side to side. These components and features make it possible to use the rather clumsy eye-to-foot-combination humans experience to interact with a 3D CAD workspace.
Interacting with a 3D Interface Using the Foot Mouse
Now, it is important to note that the foot mouse is still in its developmental stage and you may not even be able to purchase one due to the fact that the ones in circulation are basically prototypes for beta testing. That been said, the foot mouse’s operational patterns and features still lags behind those of your regular desktop or 3D mouse. Still, the device can be used to interact with a 3D interface in the following ways:
- The foot pedal: the foot pedal or surface click mirrors the left click functions of your average desktop mouse for it allows the user select models, diagrams and options on a workspace.
- The directional movements—which are quite limited—provides the directional navigation needed to execute functions such as move, zoom and pan.
- The foot pedal/surface and the directional features can also be used in combination to view a 3D model as well as choose certain spots on the 3D interface.
These features were designed to closely mirror that of your desktop mouse in order to simplify the already difficult task of working with your foot when designing. The foot mouse is designed to capture a certain segment of the CAD community which includes; designers with physical disabilities, blind individuals and anyone looking to ease the muscle strain that comes with working on a 3D interface for extensive periods of time.