“The Theory of Everything,” a recent biopic about the life of world-renowned physicist – and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) survivor – Stephen Hawking helped to bring eye tracking technology to life for viewers. In the movie, as in real life, Hawking communicates with loved ones and colleagues with an eye tracker. This assistive technology has allowed him to live a full life, as well as to make significant contributions to society, despite losing the ability to talk and write.
However, ALS is only one of the disabling diseases that can be assisted by eye tracking technology. Below, we will discuss three other disabilities in which eye tracking devices can provide assistance:
1. Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Werdnig-Hoffman Syndrome
Children and adults with MD, SMA, and Werdnig-Hoffman can benefit from the ease of positioning of the Eyegaze Edge. Because the Eyegaze Edge works accurately in any position, users with these diseases find it very comfortable to use. Children with SMA as young as 15 months are able to use the Eyegaze effectively.
2. Spinal Cord Injuries
Quadriplegia resulting from spinal cord injury is another disability that can be aided by Eyegaze. The system is often an excellent tool for people who are ventilator-dependent and quadriplegic, especially if they are non-verbal. It is also being used by some people with spinal cord injuries who are verbal, or who are able to move their heads, but find direct-selection with the eyes a faster and easier method of computer access than alternative methods of row/column scanning, voice control, or mouth or unicorn sticks.
3. Cerebral Palsy
Many children and adults with cerebral palsy are currently using Eyegaze systems to participate in school, from kindergarten through college, and in the workplace. Because controlling the eyes does not elicit a movement response in the body, many people with CP are proficient Eyegaze users. The eyes are a part of the brain, and controlling them does not cause movement in other parts of the body once the user becomes relaxed.