Part One: The Tobii Dynavox EyeMobile – A Do Space Tech Kit
September 30th, 2016 |
Sean Kelly, Community Technologist
Introducing the Tobii Dynavox: EyeMobile. One of two we currently have available here at Do Space the Tobii EyeMobile is a tech kit that features a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet mounted together with a PC EyeGo peripheral eye-tracker. As a part-time technologist at Do Space I recently checked out the Tobii EyeMobile out of sheer curiosity. Without so much as a glance at the user manual I turned on the Surface Pro to test the technology’s ability to accurately track the direction of my gaze across the screen. Fast forward through an hour of overly hard concentration on the tablet screen and I was using one of the EyeMobile’s modes of use called ‘Gaze Selection’ with a moderate level of proficiency. Using nothing but my eyes I was able to: open a web browser, select the address bar, navigate to Google.com, search for Do Space, and select the result I wanted. This was accomplished by using my eyesight to select commands and use an on-screen keyboard with predictive text.
The concept of eye-tracking is rather simple. An eye-tracker sends out near infrared light – invisible to the human eye. This light then hits your eyes and reflects. The reflections are then picked up by the eye-tracker’s cameras and through a process of filtering and algorithms the tracking is refined so the camera knows where you are looking.
By using one’s eyes for actions such as selection, highlighting, scrolling, and drag/drop one can enhance their general experience using technology. For me, video gaming – particularly the first-person sort – immediately comes to mind. A quick google search proved I was well behind with this idea. Indeed, Tobii – the company – has gone so far as to develop compatibility with a number of well-known PC game titles using its Tobii EyeX model. Should you be curious here is a demonstration of its use in Elite: Dangerous – a well-known space-simulation title.
In addition to eye-tracking for videos games and educational applications the Tobii EyeMobile has a uniquely assistive application. It acts as a device for augmentative and alternative communication. By being completely hands-off and portable the EyeMobile has the ability to enable someone with motor or speech impairment to perform everyday functions with a PC. An example that comes to mind is speech-generation. This can be performed through the use of an on-screen keyboard controlled entirely by one’s eyes. But this is just one example. The greater idea behind Tobii Dynavox’s eye-tracking technology isn’t just to replace a seemingly obsolete mouse but to enhance computer accessibility to all and with it a sense of independence.
In Part Two of my introduction to the Tobii EyeMobile I will be discussing how to calibrate the EyeMobile, the two different modes of use, and how to use the mode called ‘Gaze Selection’. I will also be providing instructional videos on how to do this. If you are interested in learning more about the Tobii EyeMobile for future use then follow the link to Part Two: Calibration and Gaze Selection.
Sean Kelly, Community Technologist
Sean is an Australian abroad. He is living in Omaha and working at Do Space as a part-time technologist with the desire to gain a valuable insight into U.S. community and culture. Sean has embraced his role at Do Space by combining his enthusiasm for technology with his various backgrounds as a tradesman, audio-visual technician and graduate of International Studies. You may have seen him at the tech desk or conducting classes in the 3D lab.