The eyes have it indeed. I thought the original article nailed the title for this subject, but I had to take a shot at it. I’m sure that everyone has met someone or knows someone who is disabled in a way that has robbed them the ability to enjoy something that we all take for granted. Be it walking up stairs, riding a bike, or even holding their own children. I know, I know, I’m getting kind of deep and serious here, but what about the small things that we take for granted like playing video games. Most non-gamers, up until a few years ago (with the therapy applications of the Wii), thought gaming was a pointless waste of time. The fact is, it allows us to escape stress, and enjoy adventuring in faraway lands while sitting at home in central air and heat.
The technological breakthrough I am ranting about is an affordable device from Imperial College London. This device allows people who could not otherwise operate controllers that require precision hand movement, or for those who cannot hold a controller at all.
“Engineers said Friday they had built a device using mass-produced video gaming equipment that lets disabled people control a computer with just their eyes – with a price tag of under $30 (25 euros). The gadget comprises two video game console cameras, costing less than $10 a piece, attached outside the line of vision to a pair of ordinary glasses.”
Let’s take a step back and establish how these “simple” operations are achieved by other technologies.
“This breakthrough allows patients to interact more smoothly and more quickly than technologies that requires electrode implants in the brain, and is even more expensive.”
The researchers reported that their innovation is 800 times cheaper than the incredibly invasive electrode implants. That is about a $23,870 difference for those keeping track.
Now, I know this seems all good and well. The current limitations are controlling the mouse, but we still need to know how well.
“To demonstrate their gadget’s functionality, the team got subjects to play the video game Pong – using their eyes to bat a ball bouncing around on a computer screen. Six of the subjects who had never done this before, achieved a “respectable score.””
Though this technology may have a long way to go before it becomes commercial we can only imagine its applications to gaming and everyday life. They pointed out that using this technology for electric wheelchairs can revolutionize mobility for people with disabilities.