SoftStep KeyWorx controller: Hands-free computing

Keith McMillen Instruments unveils the first device that enables controlling a computer using your feet.

SoftStep KeyWorx: The first device that supports computing using your feet.
SoftStep KeyWorx: The first device that supports computing using your feet. KMI

Afraid that the excessive use of the mouse and keyboard will someday make you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome? Maybe you should let your feet take over some of the job. And Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI) has something that enables you to do exactly that.

The company announced today the SoftStep KeyWorx multitouch foot controller, which it claims is "the world's first foot-controlled digital interface." According to KMI, SoftStep "works with any computer program to speed up access, making the computer as easy to use as a car's gas and break pedals."

The new device is compatible with both Mac and Windows platforms and can be used to interact with a computer to control a large variety of applications, ranging from gaming to video editing and music recording to programming and repetitive data entry work. It could also be a valuable tool for disabled people and anyone who wants to operate a computer more quickly and avoid repetitive stress syndrome.

The SoftStep KeyWorx is a bus-powered USB controller, much like a keyboard but designed to be put under the desk. On top, the controller has 10 big keys numbered from 0 to 9 and a four-way directional key for cursor and click control. According to KMI, these keys are pressure- and location-sensitive and can be programmed to remember up to 100 sets of commands. The cursor/click control key enables users to keep their hands on the keyboard without having to touch the mouse.

KMI says the SoftStep KeyWorx is made of elastomeric and graphite composites so that it's rugged while remaining lightweight. The device weighs only 1 pound and can fit in a briefcase or backpack.

The list of computing tasks that KMI says the new controller can facilitate include accessing the Internet, opening and closing software applications, entering text, zooming, and controlling volume.

The SoftStep KeyWorx is available now at a price that's much higher than that of a mouse and keyboard combined, about $290.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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