App note from OSRAM on their ALS device SFH5701, its operation and application method. Link here (PDF)
The SFH5701 is a small, two-wire, linear output current ambient light sensor (ALS) with current amplifier and dark current compensation. The ALS is capable of resolving a wide range of ambient light levels (10 mlx – 10 klx) tailored to the spectral response of the human eye and operational from -40 °C to 100 °C.
ALS robbed one of [C. Niggel]’s relative’s of the use of their upper body. This effectively imprisoned them in their house; ALS is bad stuff. Unfortunately too, the loss of upper body mobility meant that they couldn’t even use the computer to interact with people and the outside world. However, one day [C. Niggel] noted that the relative’s new electric wheelchair was foot controlled. Could this be adapted to a computer mouse?
He looked up commercial solutions and found them not only prohibitively expensive, but also fraught with proprietary drivers and all sorts of bad design nonsense. With all of the tools out there today there was no reason this couldn’t be quickly prototyped and sent to the relative in need.
He used a combination of conductive thread, neoprene, and velostat to build the pads themselves. The pads were balanced with some adjusting resistors in series. The signals are sent to an Adafruit Feather board which interprets them and converts it to a PS/2 standard.
The first version of the mouse used separate pads glued to a MDF board with contact cement. However this, along with some other initial design flaws, resulted in premature failure of the mouse. [C. Niggel] quickly returned to the lab and produced a new version with more robust construction and mailed it off. So far so good!
Filed under: The Hackaday Prize