Assistive tech

Assistive Technology is any device, software or hardware that helps someone work around challenges.

But what if an additional challenge is the cost of the technology itself?

We used this project to demonstrate whether it was possible to 3D print a viable device for under $20. We started with a Mouth Operated Joystick, aka, a Breath Mouse.

We wanted to use only components that are widely available. The result:

It works! It is a basic mouth operated mouse which can be connected via USB to nearly every PC. The case allows it to mount on standard tripods using a 1/4 inch screw.


Filament: ~$2

Arduino Pro Micro: ~$7

Thumbstick: ~$2

Disposable E-Cig: ~$2

Miscellaneous wires, parts, screws: ~$2

Total: $15 or less!


The user moves the cursor by moving a mouthpiece attached to a joystick. The right mouse button is operated by pushing the mouthpiece towards the case. The left mouse button is emulated by a sensor that recognizes if the user sucks air through it.


Moving the mouse is handled by a standard joystick like the ones you would find on a gaming controller. These are easy to find and we are even able to map the less used right click function to the push button of the joystick. The left click is operated by sucking air through the breath sensor found on the end of a disposable E-Cig. All of this is connected to an Arduino Pro Micro that connects to a PC with a standard USB micro cable. The firmware was written by the original designer and is a basic program that translates all of this into mouse movement.

Though our homemade Breath Mouse tasted like Pina Colada for awhile (it did come from an E-Cig), it was worth it to build a viable alternative for those in need of assistive tech.

Builders of the $15 Breath Mouse:

  • Daniel Zeiger, Emerging Technologies Program Manager, GPLS

  • Stephanie Irvin, Deputy Director, West Georgia Regional Library System

3d Designer and license information

This mouth operated mouse was designed by 0_o and resides on Thingiverse.

License info:

How we built it

The parts

Removing the breath switch

Running wires to the Arduino

Wiring the thumbstick and Breath Switch

Closing up the case and installing the mouthpiece

Connecting the tubing from the mouthpiece to the breath switch