Only released in EOL distros:  

Package Summary

The wouse package is software for the "Wince-mouse": optical mouse components mounted to a pair of glasses such that the mouse reports the movement of the skin near the temples. This device was developed under the Robots for Humanity project to act as a reliable, wearable run-stop for persons with severe physical disabilities.


Information on the wouse hardware can be found here.


Wincing as an Accessible Run-stop Gesture

One challenge in making assistive robots safe for persons with severe motor impairments is the decreased ability of these users to escape a robot malfunction or activate a traditional run-stop. Wincing (closing the eyes quickly and tightly) may provide a recognizable signal over which many motor-impaired persons retain voluntary control. In addition, wincing is a natural reaction to unpleasant stimuli (i.e. pain, sudden fear, etc.) which would normally indicate for the activation of a run-stop when interacting with a robot. Together, this suggests that wincing may be well suited to serving as a run-stop activation signal for users with severe motor impairments.

Wearable Wince-detection

The use of wincing as an accessible run-stop gesture requires a method of wince detection which is usable by motor-impaired persons. Many different methods may be possible, including EEG, EMG, EOG (Electrooculogram), or wearable cameras. However, with the exception of cameras, these techniques typically require prepared electrical contacts on the skin, and are non-trivial to don/doff. In an attempt to overcome these challenges, we have developed a prototype wearable wince-detection system, called the wouse.

The Wouse Device

The wouse (from "wince mouse") is, most basically, the position-tracking components of an optical mouse mounted inside the temple of a pair of safety goggles. By placing the optical sensor near the skin of the temple, just behind the corner of the eye, the sensor reports the movement of the skin. This region of the skin tends to move very little, except for being pulled forward when the eyes are closed tightly (as in wincing and other similar facial expressions.) To report skin movement consistently and accurately, the device must be properly fitted to the user, so that the mouse portion does not move with the skin, but is still close enough to detect motion.

Data Processing

The wouse software uses a 2-class Support Vector Machine to discriminate mouse movement representative of wincing from the motions caused by other facial expressions or the external mechanical manipulations of the face seen during self-care tasks such as shaving or wiping. Training data is collected (preferably from the desired user) using a training script, and the filtered, normalized and used to train the SVM classifier. When running, the wouse filters and normalizes incoming data before classifying motions as wincing or non-wincing. If a wince is detected, a signal is sent to place the robot in a low-power run-stopped mode.



1. Check out the latest version of the wouse ROS package (from link above).

2. As the superuser, run the provided script for adding a udev rule for the wouse. (This assumes you are using a swiftpoint SM300, if this is not the case, you will need to write your own rule, using the provided script as a template).

roscd wouse/scripts/
sudo ./

3. Plug the wouse USB connector into the computer. Run:

sudo cat /dev/wouse

and move the wouse against a surface (so that the mouse can sense movement). Garbage output should appear in the terminal.

This script should only need to be run once. Afterwards, the computer should not treat the wouse as a normal mouse (it cannot click or accidentally move the cursor), and the ROS nodes should be able to access the device file (required to read movement data) without being run as the superuser (which is both inconvenient and dangerous).

Properly using the wouse requires a series of steps. The following assumes you have the most recent version of the ROS package (see Source link at top of page), and have working wouse hardware (see previous section).

Providing training data

The wouse software uses a Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier to discriminate between wincing and non-wincing motions recognized by the mouse. To do this properly, the SVM must be trained. This is best done with data from the desired end user, as this will help to account for variations in facial movement and structure, different hardware designs, and the preferred seating of the glasses, among other sources of variability. Training involves collecting labelled examples of wincing and non-wincing movements.

A script is provided which selects at random from a series of expressions and actions (Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Joy, Disgust, Anger, Head Shaking, Head Nodding, and Wincing). Each action/expression will be printed to a terminal, and the user should perform that action or assume that expression for the duration it is displayed on the screen, before moving on to the next expression. This script can be run with:

rosrun wouse filename -l ### -d ##
  • filename is the required filename in which to store collected data. This is a .csv file in wouse/data/

  • The -l arg is the total length (duration) in seconds of the training session (-l 600 runs for 10 minutes).

  • The -d arg is the duration in seconds to spend in each expression (-t 3.5 gives a new expression every 3.5 seconds).

Multiple sessions run with the same filename will append new data so that data collection can be performed in multiple sessions. Delete old files if you wish to write over the contained data.

Pre-processing Training Data

The training data needs to be processed into the feature vectors of interest. Currently this is performed by wouse/scripts/ which takes any number of data files' filenames as inputs. In the data processing, mouse movements with a Euclidean magnitude < 2.5 are ignored. This seems to be the significant majority of the data produced by the wouse, which is also typically uninformative noise. Subsequently, a feature vector is produced for each of the remaining points, consisting of the instantaneous magnitude and direction of that mouse event, in addition to the (inclusive) number of events in the preceding 250ms (a measure of the rate of event occurrence), the total magnitude, and average direction of events in this window. This produces a 5-vector descriptor. Each descriptor is saved in a list, along with a list of matching labels (wince or not-wince).

Using the Wouse

The complete wouse system, when running, consists of three ROS nodes: two on the machine which the wouse in plugged in to, and one on the robot itself. The first node on the local (wouse) machine reads the mouse data from a linux device file and published a geometry_msgs/Vector3Stamped with the data. This data is received (on the same machine) by the second node (, which normalizes the data and classifies the event as a wince or non-wince. If a wince is detected, it makes a service call to the node on the robot, which engages the 'run-stop' behaviour. The node on the local machine also maintains a regular 'heartbeat' of service calls to the node on the robot. Currently, if this signal is lost, the robot beeps every ~10s, but does not run-stop the robot.

Each of the 'moving parts' in the system have been abstracted apart for easier development and research. In a 'production' system, each of these functions should likely be condensed into a single node inside the real-time framework of the robot, which will enable significantly stronger guarantees on operation, and easily halt the robot if failures occur.

To actually use the wouse with a PR2, on the robot, first run:

rosrun wouse

This will bring up the node which communicates with the power-board node, and is responsible for run-stopping the robot.

Then, on the machine with the wouse, run:

roslaunch wouse wouse.launch

This will launch both the local nodes. The will read in the formatted training data from the specified pickle file, and trains an SVM classifier (using the scikit-learn library). The pickle file should be specified using the args in /wouse/launch/wouse.launch. This file will issue a warning and exit if it fails to find the run-stop service of the run_stop_server on the robot (above), which should be started first, for this reason.

Once both nodes are running, if a wince is detected by the wouse, it should signal a run-stop to the robot, which should halt the motors and place the power boards into standby.

evdev_listener vs.

There are two ways to read the device files for the wouse. The preferred method is to use the evdev_listener node in conjunction with the udev rule included in the hardware setup script (above). This udev rule will cause the machine with the wouse to create a device file, /dev/wouse, whenever the usb plug is plugged in. The evdev_listener will then read the evdev event's from this file as the mouse reports movement. The file (modified from a version originally by Derek King) includes significantly better error-checking, including confirming the name of the device and available functions. In addition, the use of the udev rule also prevents the X-server from treating the wouse as a regular mouse and moving the cursor. However, it is somewhat more difficult to setup.

The second method is, which reads PS/2-formatted bytes from a /dev/input/mouse# file. This method publishes the same information as the evdev_listener, and can be used interchangeably with it. In addition, it does not require the use of the udev rules, and so may be preferred if experimenting with different mice, as linux produces PS/2 mouse data files readily for most mice. The drawbacks are less error-checking for the device type, and that the X-server will still use the wouse as a mouse to move the cursor, which is typically undesirable (though this may be acceptable for testing.)

When no udev-rule is used, evdev_listener can still read data from /dev/input/event#, where the # corresponds to the wouse. The X-server will continue to use the wouse to move the cursor, however. Similarly, even when the udev rule is used, a /dev/input/mouse# file is still created, which may be read with, and the X-server will continue ignoring the wouse.

The wouse.launch launch file contains arguments for specifying the method to use, and the linux device file where the wouse data can be read to receive new data. The default uses the evdev_listener to read evdev data from /dev/wouse.

All three files can also be run independently from the commandline, with both listeners accepting the device file-path to read from, and the wouse node taking the file-path of the svm training data, as their only (and required) arguments.

Recovering from a run-stop

There are two ways to restore the robot's function after a run-stop is triggered by the wouse.

Physical Run-stop

A physical run-stop may be triggered (having no effect) and reactivated, which will proceed through the normal recovery procedures, resetting the power boards and resetting the motors.

Desktop Launcher

A python script is provided,

python ...???.../wouse/scripts/

which will reset the power boards and motors.

For easier access, a desktop launcher may be created to run wouse/, which will invoke the python script. This allows a disabled user to easily reset the robot after a wouse run-stop without needing to reach a physical run-stop or type commands into a terminal.

Wiki: wouse (last edited 2012-08-13 15:55:00 by PhillipGrice)