Communication connects us to the world around us. For many people with motor disabilities, communicating—be it verbally or non-verbally—poses a difficult challenge to overcome.
While some people with communication problems can use a pen and paper or sign language to speak, those with ALS, cerebral palsy or paralysis are not always able to adequately move to use these techniques. The more technical a piece of assistive technology is, such as an AAC device, the more prohibitive the cost becomes to the user.
Based in Denmark, Obital claims to have developed the world’s most affordable and accessible eye-tracking software. Using this innovative technology, the company has launched Eyetell—an app that turns mobile devices into communication tools for people with disabilities.
Unlike other eye tracking-based AAC devices, Eyetell just needs a tablet or smartphone, making it accessible and affordable. The app requires no calibration—it can be simply downloaded and used anywhere throughout the world.
To use the app, people just need to look at the screen of their devices and “type” letters with their eyes. Once they’re finished, Eyetell reads the words out loud, allowing those with disabilities to have greater independence. Friends, family, coworkers, caretakers and others in their everyday lives will also be able to support them more easily.
“Due to the high cost of specialty eye tracking hardware and software for assistive communications, millions of people with disabilities around the world simply can’t get the tools required to cover their basic needs for communication,” Obital CEO Frederik Oestergaard Neble said in a statement.
“Limited accessibility to these tools has severe human impact, and our mission is to change this by releasing the life-changing potential of eye tracking technology through a new approach that is no longer dependent on expensive, specialty hardware.”
The app combines existing camera sensors in mobile devices with Obital’s SaaS eye-tracking platform; this platform allows developers to create their own mobile apps with eye-tracking capabilities.
“Obital’s new platform gives developers the ability to design their own apps with eye-based interaction and data using just a few lines of code,” Neble said. “We are excited to help accelerate the use of eye tracking into the mass market in a manner that can bring so much good to the world.”
Robert Scott Lazar