David Anderson from Minneapolis, MN was diagnosed with ALS in April 2010. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a disease that effects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These are the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. Some of the symptoms include: difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, paralysis and speech problems. Since his diagnosis he has lost motion in his body and no longer has the ability to swallow or talk. David was a former software developer. As a hobby he enjoyed being a Disc Jockey (DJ). David has not been able to DJ since losing the use of his arms and hands until now; when some of his technologically savvy friends got together to build a DJ’ing software program that would allow him to use an eye tracking system so he could DJ their New Year’s Eve party.
An eye tracking system has a specialized video camera mounted to a computer. The mount observes one or both of the user’s eyes to track the movement and then the software can use the onscreen keyboard to choose commands. The user looks at the key for a specified period of time to “press” a key. This system is a wonderful tool for computer users that may have computer input restrictions due to different disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, ALS, MS, Muscular Dystorphy, et cetera.
David’s friends raised money through a campaign on Kickstarter.com to purchase the hardware and develop the software that would allow David to control the DJ software they designed. They hope to make this available to the public one day.
Here is a video of David Anderson’s story:
It is wonderful to see the ways that eye tracking technology is providing a way for people with disabilities to access a computer, use a computer to communicate and as in this case allow someone to continue to do things they are passionate about. We are excited to continue to learn about other ways the eye tracking system can enhance people’s lives. If you live in the state of Indiana and are interested in checking out an eye tracking system for 30 days we have one available in our loan library.