Eye tracking technology

Individuals with ALS, a spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, Rett Syndrome, and more may all have little to no upper body strength.  The inability to move upper extremities once meant these individuals could no longer independently operate something like a PC, but eye tracking software changes that.

Tobii Dynavox is a company offering several products and information on how this technology works.  One example of eye tracking software is the Tobii Dynavox PCEye Mini.  The Tobii Dynavox PCEye Mini is the smallest and most robust eye tracker available from Tobii Dynavox.  It replaces the standard keyboard and mouse on a computer, which allows users to navigate and control their computer using only their eyes!

Benefits of gaze interaction software:

Individuals using the PCEye Mini or other eye tracking software, are able to unlock all the functions of their computer by only using their eyes.  The gaze interaction software grants access to:

  • Personal independence: users will be able to regain a level of independence by using this device.  They’ll be able to independently navigate through their computer and internet!
  • Independent recreation: individuals will be able to enjoy surfing the internet and have fun independently navigating their computer!
  • Environmental control:  control infrared-enabled devices directly from the PCEye Mini.  This capability allows users to control things like lights, phones, TVs, DVD players, toys, and more!
  • Social networking: users are now able to keep in touch with friends and family!  They can write emails, access social networking sites, or even start a blog!
  • Ergonomic access: gaze interaction is easier on one’s neck and shoulders than using a head mouse or a switch.
  • Artistic expression: “artistic expression through eye control is a healthy way to spend time, acquire new skills, and promote creativity – all things that can increase health and happiness.”
  • Remaining in work: individuals are able to return to or remain at work using this gaze interaction software.

How does eye tracking software work?

Eye tracking or gaze interaction technology is not a new concept.  However, it has more recently just “taken off as a viable solution for helping individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities live richer and more independent lives.”

Tobii Dynavox claims it is rather a straightforward process:

  1. The eye tracker sends out near infrared light
  2. The light reflects in user’s eyes
  3. The eye tracker’s camera picks up those reflections
  4. Through filtering and calculations, the eye tracker knows where the user is looking

Developers at Tobii Dynavox have taken this “simple” concept and have researched and developed ways to make the technology as unobtrusive as possible.

Calibrate for best results:

Tobii Dynavox recommends each user to calibrate for the eye tracking software to work as accurately as possible.  The eye tracker measures how one’s eyes reflect light.  Calibration is performed by user’s eyes following a point, video, or another graphic element.  This calibration data is then combined with their unique 3D model of a human eye.  This combination gives the user an optimal eye tracking experience.

How to click using gaze interaction:

The user can select and click items in a variety of ways.  How the user clicks depends on the application as well as the user’s unique abilities.  It can also vary depending on one’s abilities.  Examples include:

  1. Blinking: blinking is one method of clicking.  However, “it is not the best way since users lose focus of where they’re looking.”
  2. Dwelling: users focus their eyes on a specific area for a predetermined number of milliseconds to click
  3. Switch: the company recommends using a switch if possible.  “It is often the fastest and most efficient way of clicking.”  Users will gaze to select where they’d like to click, and then press the switch to click.

Get started with eye tracking technology today!

I mentioned the PCEye Mini device from Tobii Dynavox earlier in the blog.  This is only one example of several available products from Tobii Dynavox.  Just like most assistive technologies, what works for one person may not work for the next.  If you’re interested in learning what may work best for you or your child’s unique needs, check out their device page.  Here, you’ll be able to filter results based on these needs.

In addition to finding eye gazing software on the device page, you’ll also find several speech-generating devices.  For more information regarding Tobii Dynavox, check out their Contact Us page.

Clinical Assistive Technology Evaluation:

Still not sure which assistive technology device may work?  Did you know we offer one-on-one assistive technology evaluations?  Our assistive technology professionals work one-on-one with consumers to determine the appropriate assistive technology to meet their needs at work, home, school, or in the community.

To request an assistive technology evaluation, contact Josh Anderson, our Manager of Clinical Assistive Technology, at 317-466-2001 extension 2524.  For more information regarding referrals and evaluations, check out our AT Evaluations page.

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