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The problem is that my work laptop goes to sleep after 15 minutes. I have no control over these settings, I icannot install any software on the computer, nor can I plug in unauthorized USB devices.

My thought is something that rests on the touchpad and somehow moves around (actual xy movement, rocking, or movement contained within the perimeter of the device. A wind-up toy that moves.

What can you suggest?

Edit: Having done more research, the best solution might be to modified an interactive cat toy that runs on AA batteries.

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    The size of the touchpad would vary with the computer. However, I think all it would need to do is move a couple mm back and forth to accomplish its mission. – Al Lelopath Apr 24 at 16:55
  • I believe, doing that with a touchpad is not so easy (but possible). But, doing that with an USB mouse is okay. It would be an usb stick, except that no real mouse would belong to it, but if you plug it in into your laptop, your windows would see an usb mouse. This "mouse" would move your mouse cursor a little bit, for example in every 10 minutes. I don't know if such a hardware exists, but I know that developing one would be very easy, probably lesser than a month and about $200 in a new development. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 25 at 8:21
  • However, I believe your problem could be solved more easily on software way, i.e. check the "energy settings" of your windows. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 25 at 8:22
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    I should have mentioned that I am not allowed to plug in unauthorized USB devices. I have already stated that I cannot change the settings. – Al Lelopath Apr 25 at 14:43
  • Most laptops that have multi-touch/gesture trackpads use capacitive sensing, like tablets and phones do. They don't register any touch for all sorts of materials! I'm wondering why pressing a keyboard key over and over is not an equally viable option? (Which would work for pretty much any laptop, unlike a cat toy on the trackpad) – Romen Apr 28 at 13:20
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https://www.vxb.com/Solar-Miniature-Solar-Toy-car-1-29-x-0-86-Inch-p/MINIATURE-SOLAR-POWER-CAR.htm is a tiny toy car which could move on a trackpad, or there are dancing flowers, also light-powered. A bright light shined on them will provide enough power for them to operate.

Put a pair of wheels on a pin through a plastic straw on one end, and attach that straw to a Bobbing Bird (no battery or external light source required) on the other end. As the bird bobs, it pushes the straw which moves the wheels back and forth across the laptop's mushpad.

You could also experiment with adding a string to the Bobbing Bird , drill a hole through a marble or plastic ball, and having the string pull that around the trackpad; or tape plastic straws around the border of the touchpad to server as bumpers to keep a small wind-up toy contained.

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    Great ideas! I wonder if interior lighting would be enough to keep them going. – Al Lelopath Apr 24 at 16:56
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    I'll upvote it for now. I haven't arrived at a solution yet. Love the drinking bird. – Al Lelopath Apr 24 at 17:50
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Maybe a completely different solution. Regarding the 'not able to install software' : there is a whole ecosystem of 'Portable Applications'. These are applications that do not require any admin-rights or access to protected directories like Program Files or Windows.

Often they can be "installed" by extracting a downloaded ZIP-file. For instance this one: https://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=1738 ("prevent sleep").

However, you might want to run them by a virusscanner first. I have some experience in (my opinion) false positives, where the IT-guys forced me to reinstall my whole laptop because some 'heuristic scanner' found some programming techniques that hackers also employ.

Furthermore, test if your screensaver/locker can be stopped just pressing the control or alt key. This doesn't yield real keystrokes but might prevent locking. Putting a weight on the control-key shouldn't be to difficult.

Good luck!

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