How EagleEyes Works
Over the past several years the EagleEyes program has helped severely disabled children and young adults from across the world to use technology to communicate. These children are able to “eye paint” (create “finger paintings” by moving their eyes) and run educational, entertainment, and communications software just by moving their eyes. There have been some exciting successes. Some students have advanced to the point where they currently use EagleEyes for cognitive academic activities in their school programs.
EagleEyes is a technology that allows the user to move the cursor on the screen of a Macintosh or Windows computer by moving his or her eyes or head. Basically, the cursor follows the location that the user is looking at on the screen. The eyes replace the mouse. Selection is made by looking at a small area of the screen for a short period of time, which causes a mouse click. EagleEyes is based on measuring a user’s EOG or electro-oculographic potential. The EOG is a small electrical potential which indicates the position of the eye relative to the head. Surface electrodes are placed on the user’s head, above and below one eye, and on each side of the head to the left and right of the eyes.
Five electrodes are connected to an electrophysiological amplifier which is connected to a computer. A program in the computer translates the signals received from the electrodes into the position of the cursor on the screen. When the user moves his or her eyes, the cursor moves. Boston College undergraduates learn to use the system well enough within an hour to use EagleEyes to spell out messages at the rate of one character every 2.5 seconds.
The EagleEyes technology can be used as a mouse-replacement both with commercially available software and with custom-built software.
There is an interface that allows the control of a toy remote-controlled car and a powered wheelchair using EagleEyes.
A by-product of this research led to the development of a system called Camera Mouse that works by having a camera sitting on top of the computer monitor “lock” onto some part of the user (nose, eye, toe) and use that to move the mouse. Visit Prof James Gip’s website for more details.
It has been featured in Discover magazine, in the New York Times, in the Los Angeles Times, in the Boston Herald, in The Times of London, on the BBC, and on the Disney Channel.
The EagleEyes Project was named the winner of a 2007 da Vinci Award for “exceptional design and engineering achievements in accessibility and universal design that empowers people of all disabilities.”
The Project was named a 2006 Tech Award Laureate in the area of Education. “The Tech Awards program inspires global engagement in applying technology to humanity’s most pressing problems by recognizing the best of those who are utilizing innovative technology solutions to address the most urgent critical issues facing our planet. People all over the world are profoundly improving the human condition in the areas of education, equality, environment, health, and economic development through the use of technology. It is the goal of The Tech Awards to showcase their compelling stories and reward their brilliant accomplishments.”