Mark Bajramovic (BCom'99, MBA'02) and Oren Tessler (BSc'98, MBA'05, MDCM'05)
Oren Tessler (BSc'98, MBA'05, MDCM'05) and Mark Bajramovic (BCom'99, MBA'02), both 35, say the strength of their patented design did all the talking. The AirMouse replaces the traditional mouse with a quasi-glove. Nearly 10 years in the making, the device straps to the user's wrist, thumb, index finger and middle finger, while a sensor on the palm, between the thumb and index finger reads the hand's movements. The left and right click buttons are located under the tips of the index and middle fingers.
To work, the hand must be touching a surface, like the top of a desk or a pant leg. The device is designed so users can type comfortably while wearing the glove.
The AirMouse, which looks a little like an implement a Borg would wear in Star Trek, was born after Bajramovic developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his first year of a Master's of Business Administration program at McGill. The condition kept him away from the computer mouse for six months, and left Tessler, his work partner at McGill, overloaded.
"We realized there was nothing designed to alleviate this problem," said Tessler, an Old Montreal resident who works as chief resident of plastic surgery at the McGill University Health Centre.
He explained every mouse requires the wrist be elevated, which causes strain. The AirMouse eliminates that strain by forcing the hand into the rest position.
The design took years of study and tinkering. The pair examined computing habits of hundreds of participants, and examined the tendons and muscles of the hand to come up with a design that would give the wrist the support it needs. The device has been tested repeatedly by a small focus group retained from the original studies.
Tessler and Bajramovic are convinced the AirMouse will be a success. The market for repetitive stress injuries is substantial. Tessler himself has performed more than 500 carpal tunnel release operations.
They invested $500,000 of their own money into the design, money that came from a real estate development company that Bajramovic started with his brother, Dean in 1992.
Although there have been lots of failed attempts to reinvent the mouse, Bajramovic and Tessler believe they'll succeed because the AirMouse doesn't replace the traditional motion of the computer mouse.
"It's the behaviour of the mouse that is its legacy: a hand on a surface moving around," Bajramovic said."We've maintained that behaviour, but in a more relaxed position."
He added he's not concerned about the popularity of laptops with touchpads or tablet computers whose touchscreens eliminate the need for a mouse altogether.
"A huge amount of people are still at their desks, and need that absolute accuracy and control that only these peripheral devices can provide," he said.
So far, the feedback has been phenomenal. Since their appearanceon Dragons' Den last January, they received thousands of emails from people interested in purchasing product, including the United Parcel Service, and NASA's offices in Langley, Virginia. They also received letters of interest from several companies offering to mass produce the AirMouse, including Microsoft.
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Montreal Gazette, April 22, 2010