Windows testing eye-control technology

August 9, 2017

Microsoft is beta testing an eye-tracking tool that could be revolutionary for people with disabilities. Set to launch this fall, Eye Control technology could enable PC users to use eye movements to control actions that typically require a keyboard and mouse.

Eye Control will operate on Windows 10 and require a Tobii eye-tracking camera equipped with eye-gaze technology. Since it requires only eye movement to work, it has the potential to help a wide-range people with high levels of paralysis resulting from stroke or spinal cord injury, to motor disabilities or diseases.

“The goal of Eye Control is to allow people to use as much of the functionality of Windows as possible, using just their eyes,” Windows Principal Software Engineer Lead Eric Badger said.

Eye Control was born out the Eye Gaze Wheelchair project, the winner of Microsoft’s internal One Week Hackathon in 2014. Steve Gleason, a former NFL player diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), challenged a team of software engineers to create an assistive technology that would give him the ability to move his motorized wheelchair using Surface tablet and custom software – and they did.

“I realized pretty quickly after my diagnosis that technology would have to become an extension of myself,” Gleason said. “Until there is a medical cure for ALS, technology will be that cure.”

Microsoft agreed, and dedicated a team of researchers to study further how technology could help improve the lives of people with ALS. Three years later, their work has paid off with the expected launch of the Eye Control this fall.

“Having Eye Control in Windows 10 continues to bridge the gap between widely used technology and people with disabilities,” Gleason said in a statement. “It’s simply liberating.”

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