STEP ON IT! Keyboard Control Pedals

Hands Free Environments

Digital X-ray
Medical imaging (ultrasound, MRI, fiber optics)
Digital photo, video and audio

Many able-bodied users face problems quite similar to those faced by disabled. This happens when a user have the hands being engaged with other tools or devices, such as digitizing tablets, hand held scanners, bar code readers, tape recorders (dictaphones), or even common telephone receivers. With one or both hands busy with something else it becomes less comfortable to operate the keyboard, and to hold the Ctrl, Alt and Shift keys in particular.

Growing number of diagnostic and imaging medical devices, such as X-ray, ultrasound, fiber optic, etc., are controlled by personal computers, that are also used to store and process the gathered data and images. Introduction of such devices to the hospitals, physicians and dentists offices created a small but irritating problem: to capture the image or otherwise activate the computer the doctor has to press a button on the keyboard, while his hands are busy with the imaging device. Moreover, with sterile gloves on the physician is not supposed to touch a "dirty" keyboard. STEP ON IT! Pedals, with their 7' long pedal-to-controller wires, provide a simple and cost - effective solution to this problem. While the practitioner uses both hands for essential tasks, the gentle pressure of a foot on the pedal will start the imaging process!

Another problem arises in Magnetic Resonance Imaging applications: because of strong magnetic fields the computers should be kept far away from the patient. However, sometimes it is useful to actuate the computer from the imaging site. Using the pedals (with longer custom wires, if needed) would solve the problem.

Hands free environments are not endemic to medical applications. Digital image processing, both photo and video, also often require hands being busy with equipment rather than keyboards.

Computer-assisted design (CAD) with its 10 000 mouse clicks a day is another technical area where the pedals are very handy. Apart from such an obvious application as assigning mouse clicks to pedals, emulating the Shift key may appear to be useful, too. The CAD operator generally has to type commands at the keyboard and use a pointing device, such as mouse or tablet to input data. Thus, equipped with the pedals, the user is not required to use the keyboard with one hand and the mouse with the other.

In the latest release of AutoCAD (Release 12), the ability to assign additional commands to the pointing device buttons has been implemented by allowing the operator to hold the Shift key down when pressing one of the mouse or tablet keys (except the pick button). On a two button mouse, then, the second button can be configured for macro, and now, with Release 12, by holding down the Shift key when pushing the second button, another macro can be run. Not only the Shift key, but also the Ctrl key is used in this manner. And finally, the Shift and Ctrl keys can be pressed together to access an additional macro on a button press.

STEP ON IT! Pedals are also ideal for transcription in court reporting, in computerized telephone order taking, massive data entry, and - wherever heavy-duty typing is involved.

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