EyeWriter Initiative
November 13, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

"The EyeWriter project is an ongoing collaborative research effort to empower people, who are suffering from ALS, with creative technologies."

From the site:
Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities have teamed-up with a legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, named Tony Quan, aka TEMPTONE. Tony was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, a disease which has left him almost completely physically paralyzed… except for his eyes. This international team is working together to create a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow ALS patients to draw using just their eyes. The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.
posted by brundlefly (5 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Hey cool! Does this particularly need a special graphics program, though? How about using Inkscape with a customised on-screen keyboard for shortcuts and control keys? Would free up resources for the UI design for the eye controls.

Shameless plug: My company just released a free open-source head-tracking mouse program called Face Mouse based on the Seeing Machines Face API. (Windows XP SP2 or later only) It doesn't need special hardware, just a webcam. You don't even need to stick things on your face or wear a special hat or do any calibration (except being able to hold your face still near the camera.) (This general coolness is the Seeming Machines API, I should add, not our UI based on top of it!) Of course, you need to be able to move your whole head, which makes this completely useless for some of these ALS guys. But same "domain" of technology.
posted by alasdair at 2:59 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just forwarded this to a dear friend who has a brother with ALS.. I am posting a link to his web site--life is much restricted with ALS but not over, as you will see if you click through. Creativity can thrive where most of us will never go. Thanks for this post.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:27 PM on November 13, 2009

That's awesome. Thanks for posting.
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:29 PM on November 13, 2009

Thanks. I've seen this on several blogs, but have not commented on it yet.

My father was diagnosed with ALS last year. It is a heartbreaking disease for anybody that encounters it. To witness the gradual degeneration caused by Lou Gehrig's disease isn't always an exercise in sadness, however; instead it can be a testament to the strength of human spirit. After the ability to eat, drink, walk, write and speak disappear, the eyes are ever functional. The mind of a person with ALS functions 100%, and the corresponding twinkle, the spark in the eyes never really dissipates. It gladdens me to no end to see ALS sufferers fight, and endure.

My father still has motor function, a blessing we continue to count. When I want to know what he's thinking, though, what he's feeling, without his fancy speak-and-spell, I only need to look him in the eye.

So, it's appropriate, other than the practical functionality of it, that this project involves eyes. What better way to express that spark.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:31 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

video brought me close to tears. probably first software demonstration video that's ever done that. very cool
posted by nangua at 2:42 AM on November 14, 2009

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