Don’t you just love having choices? Thanks to the TetraLite Company, we have one more in the mouth joystick arena for people with quadriplegia, MS, or other physical disabilities. The TetraMouse is similar to most of the alternative joysticks (i.e. Jouse2) in that you move it around with your lips, chin or tongue to access all areas of the screen. However, the big difference is that it has a 2nd joystick right next to the first, which provides significantly more options and control.
The second joystick on the TetraMouse gives the user all of the controls of a standard mouse such as left/right click, drag/drop, scroll, and middle click, while also providing access to programming features. Programming mode is entered with a simple upward motion of the left joystick, which allows the user to set the device to have 3, 5, or 8 mouse functions and change to four different speed settings. Note: As stated in the manual, the Windows’ built-in driver can only handle up to 5 mouse functions; however, there are “work arounds” for this with free 3rd party software, which can deliver up to 7 functions and remapping capabilities. Macintosh users will have access to all eight, but can benefit from 3rd party software to remap all of the mouse functions.
IPAT purchased the TMXA version of the TetraMouse, which was indicated on the website to allow for “finer control of angular pointer movement”. After working with the TMXA for a day, I found it to be very accurate and smooth with easy to follow instructions. The two joysticks on the mouse are placed closely, and the mouse is sensitive enough that I could easily maneuver the right joystick with one side of my mouth while clicking the left joystick with the other side. However, one must take into account different mouth sizes, flexibility and coordination of the various potential users. You can see a demonstration of an older version of this mouse in this video.
After my first experience with the TetraMouse, I found a few features worth noting. Scrolling is accessed with just two clicks of the left joystick, which I found very handy to help get me through large pages of text. I also like that the TetraMouse is plug/play and comes in thousands of color combinations, which are made possible because it is printed with a 3D printer.
My favorite feature was the ability to change the speed on the fly. This built-in tool helped me when I was trying to move the mouse to a very small, specific point on the screen. With two clicks on the left joystick, I was able to slow it down, which helped me to stop on a dime. With two more clicks on the left, I changed it back to my normal speed. Very efficient and fast!
One thing that I would like to see improved is the mount, which is an optional purchase. After just an hour of use, the clamp cushion, to protect the table, came off and the joints had to be re-tightened. The TetraMouse does come with a universal screw post to attach to most other standard mounts.
The best thing about this brilliant, alternative joystick is the terrific quality for the small price and the “Lifetime transferable, no-hassle, FREE repair or replace warranty”. Currently the price ranges from $249 to $349 not including the mount. The Jouse2, for example, currently costs $1550 with the mount; however, keep in mind that these are two completely different products, each with different features for different users.
In summary, the TetraMouse should definitely be on your list of devices to consider when looking for a pointing solution for someone who cannot use their hands to access a computer. If you would like to see this mouse in action, or you would like to rent it, contact IPAT at 800-895-4728.