Communication boost at the blink of an eye

Zyteq Speech Pathologist and Assistive Technology Consultant  Karyn Muscat,  ‎Assistive Technology Specialis Chris Bryg, ILC Speech Pathologist Gail Bennell , Speech Pathologist Student Lucy Schinckel , Occupational Therapists Meg Bain and managing director at ZYTEQ Tracey Bode. Picture: Paul Scambler

Zyteq Speech Pathologist and Assistive Technology Consultant Karyn Muscat, ‎Assistive Technology Specialis Chris Bryg, ILC Speech Pathologist Gail Bennell , Speech Pathologist Student Lucy Schinckel , Occupational Therapists Meg Bain and managing director at ZYTEQ Tracey Bode. Picture: Paul Scambler

TASMANIANS can now control a computer with the glint of their eye.

The roll-out of the Eyegaze technology in the state's North and North- West will help bypass communication barriers caused by restricted limb function, motor neurone disease, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and brain injury - with occupational therapists hailing the technology's potential for schoolchildren with disability.

A Tasmanian Community Fund and MyState grant allowed Independent Living Centre Tasmania to buy the new equipment earlier this year, including Tellus console, three Tobii PCEyeGo cameras, and an Accent 1200 laptop.

ILC occupational therapist Chris Bryg said the Eyegaze technology tracked the movement of the users eyes on a screen, using a camera to follows the natural glint, bypassing the need for a keyboard or mouse.

"For children, it may enable them to look at the screen to play games that can improve their skills, literacy and learning opportunities, and give students who can't talk the ability to communicate," Mr Bryg said.

Mr Bryg said the gear had already been trialled by ILC clients - including a client with motor neurone disease who runs their own business - with several more on the waiting list to try it out.

A come-and-try day in Burnie last week also saw schoolchildren give the system a go.

"Teachers were seeing things in their students that they had never seen before - they engaging on a new level," Mr Bryg said.

Tracey Bode, from Eyegaze supplier Zyteq, said though the technology had been around for 10 years, it was only in the past five that cumbersome systems had been streamlined.

Mr Bryg said the Eyegaze system and similar technology would continue to change become more mainstream.

"There are endless possibilities with this kind of technology," he said.

"It's a bit like cameras in phones - once it was a bit of fun and many thought they didn't need it.

"Now, it's a main feature.

"So who knows what we will be doing with our eyes in the future."

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