The latest USB oddity: foot switches

The market is littered with all sorts of bizarre USB peripherals. Thumb drives are available in a multitude of shapes and sizes. You can use a USB connection to cool a frosty beverage, warm your fingertips, or even power a disco ball. USB humidifier? Check. Toothbrush? Yep. And for the ladies, there are vibrating, er, accessories, too.

While browsing our inbox this morning, I noticed that ProClockers has a review of another USB oddity: a foot switch from Scythe. Better known for producing cooling accessories, Scythe has introduced a trio of foot-switch USB devices with one, two, and three switches each. These are switches rather than the analog foot pedals one might find with a racing wheel, and Scythe supplies software that allows users to bind specific key functions to each one.

According to the review, the switches can withstand up to a million cycles and are anchored to a sturdy base. We can reportedly expect to pay between $19 and $45 depending on the number of switches, which doesn’t strike me as particularly onerous if we’re not talking about a flimsy plastic accessory. Gamers short on keys to bind seem like prime candidates for this sort of device, and I can see toe-tappers being intrigued by its potential for rhythm-based games. Plus, unlike USB snow globes, you can hide this particular accessory under your desk.

Comments closed
    • Jambe
    • 9 years ago

    Heh, good one ludi (#4). A few of my friends (transcribers, mostly) use these but I’ve never tried one. Might do it, though; it’d take some getting used to but it’d be handy for a lot of things, I imagine.

    On a tangential note, I plan to get some pedals for my kitchen sink, and perhaps for the bathrooms if it works out. Problem is they’re not so easy to find, and most of what you do find is for labs and hospitals (and is priced to match). There’s the sinkpedal.com people, of course, but they’re even more expensive than your industry supply folk.

    Hm.

    • crsh1976
    • 9 years ago

    Creative issued a new World of Warcraft-branded USB pedal to use as a push-to-talk button for voice chat (those virtual raids are serious business); it’s not a totally bad idea, you just don’t want to meet the kind of tools that buy that stuff though (as opposed to those who have a real need for such a device).

    Source: §[< http://us.store.creative.com/Sound-Blaster-World-of-Warcraft-Tap/M/B003BQKCUI.htm<]§

    • RostokMcSpoons
    • 9 years ago

    I bought a cheap USB footswitch a couple of weeks ago from a Hong Kong ebay site. I use it (mapped to ‘C’) as the crouch button for when I’m playing FPS games.

    It works a treat, and saves me some RSI stress (…I knackered my middle finger by making the mistake of getting used to using right mouse as crouch in Day of Defeat for several years)

    (And in answer to Noigel’s question – you can set it to auto-repeat, or just return a single keypress)

    • Noigel
    • 9 years ago

    When the pedal is pressed and held down does the key stay pressed? For example if I mapped a pedal to the “t” key and held it down would I get?

    ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt…

    or just…

    t…

    I’d think this is a biggie for mapping to Teamspeak/Ventrilo…

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    try the stealth switch

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    switches are kinda cool, I want some.

    • GokuSS2
    • 9 years ago

    Use these for ventrillo. works great

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    We need esata foot switches stat, and under $99g{

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Very cool – I can see using these for our clients, who need to control two communications devices – a telephone and a radio – without taking their hands off the mouse or moving away from the call-handling app. This could be a nice solution…

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, I heard a talk from a guy who was very into ergonomic computer usage and apparently these are great to use for stuff like the control key — it avoids making your hand pronate badly.

      • ybf
      • 9 years ago

      I use the pad on my palm under my pinkie to depress the Ctrl key, so his basic problem is he’s doing it wrong.

      But his point still has validity. Getting Shift, Ctrl, Alt, and Meta off your fingers and onto the floor will speed up typing by a good whack, and reduce stress on your hands.

      It might even make EMACS usable…

        • StuffMaster
        • 9 years ago

        Another way to do it…remap Caps Lock to Ctrl.

    • jdcope
    • 9 years ago

    This isn’t really new. My wife does medical transcription and uses a foot pedal. They have been around for years.

    • FireGryphon
    • 9 years ago

    People with disabilities will be able to use these. There’s been stuff like it, but it’s generally very specialized and expensive. Having assistive technology made by a consumer player, and having it so cheap, is a windfall for people who need this stuff on the cheap.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      yeah but mine cost $0 additional cash. :p Besides before I spend money on a foot controller, I’ll just buy a Boss ME-25 or similar. I’m coming around to the idea that I’m better off finding a sound I like before I record because trying to add amp sim and effects to clean recordings results in me just turning software knobs for hours on end fooling around. Fun but ultimately not particularly productive.

    • sirfixalot
    • 9 years ago

    Among the staff I support there’s quite a few translators, transcribers and other heavy text processing folks.
    They go totally nuts whenever a pedal breaks down and it isn’t fixed instantly. They are often paid according to how much they write, it costs them quite a few bucks when they have to use the mouse to start and stop a recording, so $50 is well worth it for them, considering some of them earn more per hour than that.

      • XaiaX
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, I’ve been considering a foot pedal as an additional input for the PC ever since I started wailing on the Rock Band drumset, but the target market (transcription) isn’t as large as the gamer market, so the prices have been kind of high. (Not to mention potentially unnecessary features like analogue sensitivity for variable speed playback that you wouldn’t need for something like “crouch” or “jump”)

      We are wasting our limbs.

      Heck, I could get two of the 3 pedal models and be /[

      • Jon T
      • 9 years ago

      Yea, I’ve already installed a number of USB footswitches for customers. I have around 50 users who rely on them, whether it’s directly into the player or digitally.

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    Finally, I can play Virtual Sewing Machine the way it was intended.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      My first thought was a WoW fan screaming “more hotkey bindings” at the photos, but your idea’s better.

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      Good stuff. Thanks for the laughs!

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      Seamstress Hero®

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Try the Lady Gaga variety pack. If you get to Level 12, you have to prepare twenty-three unique outfits in less than thirty minutes. I only get fifteen completed before my metatarsal stress fracture starts acting up.

        • bdwilcox
        • 9 years ago

        TWIMTBS – The Way It’s Meant to be Sewn

          • ew
          • 9 years ago

          Sponsored by Pfaff.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 9 years ago

      Good to see you are honing up on that skill. You’ll make a lovely bride for some lucky person one day.

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Sorry. My ongoing banter with Meadows notwithstanding, I don’t schwing that way.

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          If you only knew.

          • bthylafh
          • 9 years ago

          Meadows does, though.

    • morphine
    • 9 years ago

    Immediate geek / guitar player idea: use this as a very cheap substitute for a MIDI pedalboard.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 9 years ago

    This is something that I would use if I had, but I don’t feel much need to purchase it.

    • bdwilcox
    • 9 years ago

    This will be valuable for people with disabilities.

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