BT is using Nintendo Wii style technology to develop a device for laptops that removes the need for a keyboard or a mouse.
‘BT Balance’ works by enabling the user to manipulate menus and applications simply by moving or tilting their machine.
The specially designed adaptor containing movement sensors can be plugged into any standard laptop or tablet PC.
The adaptor is then able to ‘talk’ to software downloaded to the laptop and then translate the motion and rotation into actions on the user’s computer screen.
The BT Balance adaptor is built around an accelerometer chip, which works in much the same way as the balance system in the human ear.
It tells the computer which way is up and how the device has been moved. When the user makes an action, like tilting the machine left or right, the BT Balance software interprets this and manipulates the on-screen content.
The software can be adapted so that users can move a cursor around the screen or even turn the pages of a virtual manual or book just by tilting or moving around their machine.
Adam Oliver, head of age and disability research at BT, said: ‘The technology has obvious implications for those who are disabled or elderly and have difficulty using a fiddly laptop keyboard or mouse.
‘We quickly realised that it could have other commercial applications such as someone needing to use their laptop in conditions where trying to type or manipulate a tiny keyboard is tricky or where they are unable to use both hands, such as an engineer or technician working in the field needing to navigate quickly round maps or diagrams, or even someone just using their laptop on a crowded train.
‘The software is extremely adaptable and can be used in all sorts of ways – for example, it could be programmed so a user could make or connect an incoming internet voice call or to access digital pictures simply by tilting and tipping the computer.’
BT is currently testing the technology at its research labs.