Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Samsung's 'eye mouse' is the nicest thing it's ever done

The EYECAN+ is a cheap and accurate tool for helping the disabled use computers
A volunteer group of Samsung engineers has developed a second generation of the company's EYECAN eye-tracking technology, which is designed to allow disabled people to navigate a computer interface. EYECAN+ dispenses with the original's need for glasses and is now just a self-contained unit that slots in under a computer's monitor. Once hooked up, it presents the user with a series of options, which can be highlighted with a look and "clicked" with a blink. The technology was on demonstration in Seoul today, where The Verge's Sojung Lim witnessed it being used by graduate student Hyung-Jin Shin of Yonsei University. Shin, who was born quadriplegic, has been helping test the EYECAN+ and used it to write out a message of support for the project:
"Nice to meet you, everyone. I am happy that the eye mouse is developed in Korea. The eye mouse isn't just an IT device, but arms and legs for a patient with advanced disease. I hope that these kind of research will be continued."
Completing that full message with the eye-tracking mouse took Shin roughly 20 minutes, and he only had one typo, which he quickly deleted. Having grown up relying on his mother to write everything down for him during his studies, Shin now has a new level of autonomy with the EYECAN+, which can even do drag-and-drop commands allowing for the occasional game of Angry Birds too.
samsung eyecan+
Samsung has no plans to commercialize the eye mouse, describing it as too niche of a market, though it does have companies already interested in using the technology and plans to open source the design. The engineers working on EYECAN+ all volunteered for the task and were supported by Samsung, who allowed them to focus their full attention on the project. While the eventual product isn't unique in its functionality and may be bettered by alternatives likeTobii, Samsung has managed to produce it at a fraction of the cost of other solutions, saying it costs in the region of $500 to make.
Correction: Samsung initially indicated the cost to produce the EYECAN+ would be roughly $150, but has since clarified that it's closer to $500. This article has been amended to reflect that change.