This design shows how to build a head strap mounted laser pointer.

Why? For someone paralysed apart from some head movement who cannot otherwise communicate.

As you may see I have made a few devices as aids for disabled people (RFID music box, Kindle page turner, giant nurse-call button). Colleagues know I do this now, so I get approached sometimes to help people out. A small amount of tech can sometimes transform someone’s life.

This one was made for someone in hospital with an illness that has at present robbed them of all movement apart from some head movement. They cannot speak as on a ventilator via tracheostomy. Very frustrating for someone to not be able to communicate even basic thoughts.

I had been trying some free software from around the world that tracks head movements using a webcam in a laptop, to select letters on the screen, with some success (The “HeadMouse” face-tracker in conjunction with Click-n-Type on screen keyboard, also Can-Assist “Dynamic Keyboard”, also tried the “Eyewriter” from Instructables, for those who might be interested).

However, these laptop based higher tech solutions do mean that ultimately others would have to set up the laptop and open the relevant software(s) to make this work. On a busy day this may well not happen.

Therefore, it occurred to me that there is a low cost solution that essentially does the same thing, i.e. a head mounted laser pointer plus a board with letters and key words on it. The KISS (Keep It Simple - Stupid!) principle in action.

There are a number of YouTube videos of people exercising their cats by attaching a laser pointer to their heads, however here is a more serious use.

Authors: John Xenon