The gadget world is full of neat eye-tracking interfaces, from an iPhone version to a fully functioning laptop. But these are all fairly pricey and complex, making them niche devices rather than widely adoptable tools. Now a Honduran teenager has an eye tracker that solves the problem: A $300 open-source kit meant for people with disabilities. It's called the Eyeboard.Recent high school grad Luis Cruz, 18, started out tinkering with video game technology, and says he designed the Eyeboard to help people communicate using eye movements. It is based on electrooculography, which takes advantage of the eyes’ electrical potential. The eye acts as a dipole, with the cornea positively charged and the retina negatively charged. As a person’s eye moves, the negative pole moves relative to the person’s face. Attaching two electrodes to a person’s head near his or her eyes can capture this change. Cruz integrated the electrodes into a pair of glasses and connected it to an amplifier. It’s based on an ATmega328P microcontroller and runs on software Cruz wrote himself.
He is releasing it as open source to enable quicker development of tools like autocomplete, which would make the system work more quickly.
It works by tracking a user’s eye movements across a keyboard, translating voltages through the software and pasting letters onto a virtual notepad. A user simply looks at the letters he or she wants and writes a sentence. Watch him demonstrate it in the video below.
Cruz has tested the system at an organization called Arca de Esperanza, which works with children who have suffered brain injuries. He believes he can produce further versions that would cost between $200 and $300, which could make the devices a realistic purchase for many more people. He is seeking PayPal donations to further the cause and to help him afford a college education in America.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.