Lasers-Physically Easy to Use ?

For some, a laser can be physically easier to use than a high tech system, such as eyegaze or head mouse.*

Lasers Can Be Physically Easy to Use Because:

The Farther Away the Target, the Less Head Movement Required 
Distance magnifies head movements. If a person is using a head mouse with a computer which is 18 inches away, they will need big head movements. When using a laser, the farther away the communication board, the less the individual has to move their head. 

Some people with neck weakness (like with ALS) may not be able to use a smaller board which requires larger head movements, but are able to use a larger board which is farther away. 


A Laser Beam Always Goes Where Pointed
When a person uses a head mouse or an eye gaze system, the cursor doesn’t always go where they want it to go. When that happens, the individual has to re-calibrate using head or eye movements. A laser beam, on the other hand, travels in a straight line. It always goes exactly where it's been pointed.


No Calibration Required
Unlike a eye gaze computer or a head mouse, a laser does not require calibration.

No Calibration = Less Eye/Head Movement
Less Eye/Head Movement = Less Fatigue


A Good Communication Partner Can Carry Some of the Work Load
Putting together a message takes work. A good communication partner can help lift some of that load.

Word Prediction
A competent, familiar communication partner can speed communication by guessing and finishing the word or sentence.** 

Communication devices also offer word prediction, but there is one big difference: focus.

When a person uses word prediction on a device, they have to keep looking back and forth between the keyboard and the word prediction. Word prediction can speed up communication up in certain ways, but it can also slow communication down as the person keeps shifting their attention between the keyboard and the word prediction. With low tech word prediction, there is no loss of focus.

Location Prediction
A good communication partner can be more intelligent than a computer in certain ways. Imagine that an individual is tired, and is struggling to reach a particular target on the board. Based on content, the partner can have a fair sense of what the person is trying to point to, and make an educated guess.


*This presumes that the individual has sufficient head movement and control to use a laser.  For some people with significant physical disabilities, low tech can be faster.  For people who can use their hands, high tech may be faster.

** Having a communication partner guess and finish words is a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t want their partner to finish their words or thoughts.