Hardware to help a one-armed editor.

Well, actually, he has two arms, but one is soon-to-be in a sling. One of my coworkers has to go in for shoulder surgery and will be in a sling for a few months. Sadly he won’t be able to take three months off from work. He knows I like to cut and solder stuff, so he asked for my help in building some sort of custom controller to allow him to still hit shortcuts with his left hand while it is in a sling.

We have a few months, so I figure I will throw some of my ideas out there and see if anyone else has any better ones!

Concept 01 – KISS

This revolves around just using a shuttle or a shuttle pro. These have a scroll and jog wheel they have user re-mappable keys, and you can even define keysets for each specific app. I think the only thing difficult about this would be configuring a mount for it, but I could see a long piece of aluminum (to go between his arm and his body) bent at roughly a 45 at where his wrist hits it. The 45 would have a velcro patch on it, and so would the bottom of the shuttle. I think that between sliding the aluminum, tweaking the bend and moving the velcro he would be able to get pretty comfortable.

    Concept 02 – Numeric pad

    Same idea as before, but remap one of those small number pad usb keyboards and mount it in the same way. This has the advantage of more buttons, but I’m not really sure how many buttons is too many for one hand.

    Concept 03 – Custom all the way!

    This would involve a bit more study and then create a keyboard using a keyboard emulator. It would probably involve lots of little pushbuttons. The benefit would be that the common modifier keys could all be grouped together, and the functional keys could all be laid out semi-ergonomically. This would need a pretty special enclosure, and would surely be a wiring rats nest.

    I have all kinds of other (mostly bad) thoughts involving foot switches, left hand mousing, and a variety of other dead end technologies. I want to hear your thoughts! What is the best hardware for this kind of project? If you had to cut the # of keys down to as few as possible, what ones would be on your list? What could you remap inside of final cut in order to save time?

    I can’t wait to see your comments!

      lead photo of John S. Payne from here

      ~ by ross on July 30, 2010.