Dwell clickers allow individuals to use a mouse or other pointing device (e.g., a joystick) without having to click buttons. Users simply hover their cursor over an item on the screen for a predetermined amount of time and this item will be clicked. Dwell clicking can be used to control a computer by individuals who physically have no other method of computer interaction (Bates, 2002). For individuals who are typically developing, dwell click has been found to be more efficient and less fatiguing to the hand than traditional mouse clicking (Bohan & Chaparro, 1998).
It is common for dwell clicking to be combined with an eye gaze system. In this case, users typically gaze for 1 second at a target before a mouse click is generated at the average location of their gaze during that second. One problem with dwell clicks when combined with eye gaze systems that has been noted in the research literature is called the “Midas touch,” which refers to inadvertent clicks when the user gazes at an object of interest for too long that they do not wish to select (Velichkovsky, Sprenger, & Unema, 1997). This may be especially prevalent in individuals who have severe physical disabilities, as they may not have sufficient control of their movement (Bates, 2002). Istance, Bates, Hyrskykari, and Vickers (2008) suggested that there are “just right” settings which can decrease the prevalence of the Midas touch; too short a dwell time means over clicking and too long can be fatiguing for users and can result in the gaze point moving off of the intended target before the end of the dwell period, which may mean slow, and challenging interaction. It is, therefore, important to work with an expert when considering dwell clickers.
Despite much research literature focusing on the technical aspects of dwell clickers, there is little research focusing on its use in education or for individuals who have disabilities.
Research Rating: There is some research on the topic of dwell clickers, but much of this research has been completed on typically developing individuals, therefore dwell clickers have not been confirmed in the populations who require them as assistive technology.
Can allow individuals with physical disabilities to interact with a computer without requiring individuals to click a mouse
Can be combined with eye gaze systems
If the correct settings are not used it may be fatiguing and challenging to use dwell clickers (Istance et al., 2008)
Contact an Occupational Therapist or other professional to determine which system and what settings are the most appropriate.
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Bates, R. (2002). Have patience with your eye mouse! Eye-gaze interaction with computers can work. In the Proceedings of the 1st Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology - CWUAAT, 33-38.
Bohan, M., & Chaparro, A. (1998). To click or not to click: A comparison of two target-selection methods for HCI. In: CHI'98: Proceedings of the CHI 98 conference summary on human factors in computing systems. ACM Press, New York, 219–220.
Istance,H., Bates, R., Hyrskykari, A. and Vickers, S. (2008). Snap clutch, a moded approach to solving the Midas touch problem. In: Proceedings of the 2008 symposium on Eye tracking research & applications (ETRA '08). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 221-228.
Velichkovsky, B., Sprenger, A,, & Unema, P. (1997). Towards gaze mediated interaction: Collecting solutions of the “Midas Touch” problem. In: Howard, S., Hammond, J., & Lindgaard, G. (eds.) Human-Computer Interaction: INTERACT'97. Chapman and Hall, London, 509-516.
Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision April 2018