Helping people use pointing devices with ease
PointAssist is a tool designed to help people who have difficulty using computer pointing devices (e.g., a mouse). To assist in pointing, it detects the type of motion that occurs when users have difficulty pointing at a target (e.g., an icon),
and modifies the location of the mouse cursor to provide help in those cases.
PointAssist was originally developed to help young children with using pointing devices such as the mouse. Research studies provide evidence that it can help both young children and older adults with pointing tasks. We are currently exploring the application of PointAssist and similar technologies to people with motor impairments. Manually modified versions of PointAssist appear to help many of the people with motor impairments with whom we have interacted.
The picture on the right shows paths taken by four year old children to point on a 16 pixel circular target. The paths turn red when PointAssist detects pointing difficulty and triggers a precision mode. Note that even though PointAssist does not know where the target is located, it triggers its precision mode in the middle of the target.
PointAssist automatically works with all existing software. A free Microsoft Windows version is available for download (see below).
Version 0.3 of PointAssist is now available for download for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7
free of charge under the GNU GPL license.
If you are interested in the code please contact Juan Pablo Hourcade.
PointAssist has been designed, developed and evaluated at the University of Iowa's
Department of Computer Science.
Faculty: Juan Pablo Hourcade.
Alumni: Guarionex Salivia, Keith Perry, Aditya Sharma, and Chris Bush.
Hourcade, J.P., Nguyen, C.M., Perry, K.B. and Denburg, N.L. (2010). PointAssist for Older Adults: Analyzing Sub-Movement Characteristics to Aid in Pointing Tasks. Proceedings of CHI 2010, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM Press: pp. 1115-1124. Honorable Mention
Hourcade, J.P., Perry, K.B. and Sharma, A. (2008). PointAssist: Helping Four Year Olds Point with Ease.
Proceedings of Interaction Design and Children 2008.
Hourcade, J.P. (2006). Learning from Preschool
Children's Pointing Sub-Movements. Proceedings of Interaction Design and Children (IDC 2006). ACM Press: pp. 65-72.