Eye-control Empowers People with Disabilities

By Tara Rudnicki, Tobii ATI

BuzzWHO: Tobii Assistive Technology Inc. (ATI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tobii Technology, is the leading global provider of eye-tracking and gaze interaction-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices that help improve the lives of individuals with disabilities by enabling them to communicate, control their environment and gain greater independence through their eyes.

WHAT: Gaze interaction is a computer access method that allows those with disabilities to navigate and control their computer with their eyes, similarly as an everyday computer user uses a mouse (e.g., activate, select, zoom, scroll, etc.) to control their computer. Gaze interaction only requires the movement of the eye itself—the movement of other muscles is not required, making it a perfect solution for those with rehabilitative disabilities (paralysis, spinal cord injury, repetitive strain injury, severe carpal tunnel) and motor disabilities (Lou Gehrig’s, cerebral palsy, autism, etc.).

More than 7,000 people around the world use some type of Tobii ATI assistive technology device, many of which are empowered by Tobii’s gaze interaction platform -- Tobii Windows Control. Recently enhanced with the award-winning Tobii Gaze Selection, Tobii Windows Control provides a more natural, efficient and precise computer interaction method, superior to any other computer control device used today.

WHAT IT ENABLES: With Tobii Gaze Selection, a person with disabilities can perform a wide range of tasks through a computer that help them to communicate more effectively and live fuller, more independent lives. Tasks that this technology enables include the ability to open and control third party software, communicate through dictation software, surf the Web, make telephone calls, send e-mails and text messages, control their physical environment, create artwork, play computer games and stay in touch with family and friends through Facebook and Skype. Tobii assistive technologies are helping children with autism to communicate, veterans with Lou Gehrig's Disease to stay connected to friends and family, and former BMX Gold Medalist Stephen Murray the ability to stay connected to his fans, run a business and support charities that are helping other injured extreme athletes.

HOW IT WORKS: A Tobii eye tracker, found on all Tobii assistive technology devices (Tobii C12, C15 and Tobii PCEye), uses invisible Infra-red light to illuminate the eyes. From there, two extremely high quality camera sensors capture the reflection off of the retina and the cornea of the eyes, commonly referred to as “red eye” and the glint, respectively. The eye tracker then uses these two points to build a 3D model of the user’s eyes to determine two things: where the user is looking (gaze point) and where the user’s eyes are in space, relative to the location of the computer (track box).

This information is then paired with Tobii Windows Control to allow the computer to know exactly where the user is looking with an accuracy of 1cm. The computer can then track the user’s gaze point and, ultimately, tell the computer where their eyes are looking at all times. By knowing where the user’s eyes are looking, the eye tracking device then can control the computer, similar to the way a mouse lets you control it with your hand.

Eye Control

WHAT ELSE?: For nearly three decades, Tobii ATI has been helping men, women and children with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury lead fuller, richer lives. Through its total commitment to serving its customers—individuals, families, doctors, therapists, schools and rehabilitation centers—Tobii ATI has developed a reputation as an innovative and caring industry thought leader that continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible. They deliver the most advanced, effective and empowering communications tools available for a wide array of communities with disabilities through award-winning eye-tracking and gaze-controlled hardware and software. Tobii is the global leader in eye-tracking and gaze interaction.

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