– also referred to as Gaze Tracking, Eye Tracking, Eye Pointing or Eye Control.
Originally developed by the advertising industry to track the patterns of viewing on websites and TV, since the mid 2000’s Eye Tracking has been used as a computer access method for people with significant disabilities. The technology uses a high quality camera, an IR light source and software to calculate the point on the desktop at which the user is looking. The system must first be calibrated then selections can then be made by blinking or using the dwell method. Accuracy varies depending on the user and the system being used. Even the best Eye Tracking systems would not offer the accuracy of more conventional pointing devices and often require additional software to navigate complex user interfaces.

Useful Links and Videos

Low Cost Options

The last couple of years has seen eyegaze peripherals become more affordable and available. The EyeTribe costs under €150 delivered and is the only eyegaze device that supports Apple OSX. Another option by market leaders Tobii is the EyeX  which is a very accurate and stable device. These two devices are not sold as AT, they are marketed at developers (which is why they are so cheap). They also both require a computer with USB 3 (standard on most new machines) and a relatively high spec. The Eyetribe supports mouse emulation out of the box and so can immediately be used as a means of controlling some music software (you’ll need to download DwellClick or similar for mouse clicks or even better create your own interface with SAW). The Tobii EyeX has more restrictions, probably because they don’t want it competing with their AT offerings. There are however a some software solutions that can release the real power of the Tobii EyeX to non-developers. One of our favorite solutions for music and gaming is called IRIS. IRIS gives the Tobii EyeX complete mouse emulation but it’s standout feature is its Interactors. Interactors are areas on the screen that you can set up to send keystrokes to the software in focus. The video below will hopefully make this a bit clearer.

Open Source

There are a number of open source Gaze Tracking projects at different stages of development around the world the ITU Gaze Tracker ,  MyEye Project and The EyeWriter Initiative are a few but due to the availability of lower cost commercial options these have seen less development recently.

The real progress in terms of Open Source eyegaze is in the computer access and AAC area with the development of Optikey. This free, stable and highly polished software will work with law cost eyegaze devices (like the Eyetribe and Tobii EyeX) and allow users full computer access and communication. We are looking at this software closely in the hope that someone with an interest in the area of music or gaming might decide to fork the project and create software specific (gaze control Ableton?) or gaming controls.