Using a computer may get a lot easier for people with ALS. Laptops and PCs powered by Windows 10 will soon feature eye-tracking control according to Microsoft.
The technology, which works in conjunction with the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C, enables people with ALS to move a mouse, launch an application or use a virtual keyboard with their eyes.
Key features include “shape writing” which speeds up keyboard use by anticipating words much like texting on smart devices such as a tablet or a smart phone. Currently, only a US English (US-EN) keyboard is supported. But other keyboard layouts are expected to become available.
The software is one of growing number of eye-tracking technologies being developed by Microsoft’s Enable team in Redmond, Washington. The project, which began in 2014, is inspired by Steve Gleason who challenged Microsoft computer scientists at a hackathon to create technologies that empower people with ALS by increasing their independence.
The eye-tracking feature, known as “Eye Control”, is now available to “Windows Insiders” for beta testing. The software could become available to the general public as early as Fall 2017. Compatability with other Tobii eye-tracking devices including the PCEyeMini and PCEyePlus is planned.