New Eye-Tracking Technology Allows Immobile Man To “Speak” Again
Talk about body language.
What if you couldn’t move or speak on your own? That’s what happened to Don Moir twenty years ago. As you can imagine, it made even talking to friends and family really hard. But now he has a way to communicate with the world, all thanks to some really awesome high-tech eye-tracking software.
Moir was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that attacks the nerve cells and causes the body to stop allowing voluntary movement. As time progressed, Moir became unable use his arms and legs and eventually needed a wheelchair to move around. In 1999, he lost his ability to talk.
Moir started communicating with his wife via eye movements using a letter board, which is a piece of paper that has letters in four quadrants. Moir’s wife, Lorraine, would have to guess which grouping of letters he was looking at depending on how his eye were moving. Then she would write down each letter one by one. It was a slow process.
Taking that same concept, a group called Not Impossible Labs developed a software that would let him do that more efficiently. The team, led by Javed Gangjee, made a software that now lets Moir quickly select letter groupings and letters themselves. The software tracks his eyes and types out the letters; all he has to do is look around the screen, then let his eyes rest in the middle, and a robotic voice reads the message out loud.
And what was the first thing he said with this amazing thing in front of him?
“I love you Lorraine.”
Aw, so sweet! What’s even more amazing is that Moir had never used a computer before—Not Impossible Labs made it super user-friendly so he can easily adapt. With practice, Moir will one day be able to type at four words per minute, which is really close to normal conversation speed.
The guys over at Not Impossible Labs did a pretty awesome job, and they even let people download the software off their website. Check out how they worked with Moir in this video:
Assistive technology for the win!