Eye tracking systems are amazing tools for assistive communication. Disabilities such as ALS, MS, locked-in syndrome quadriplegia, and even repetitive strain injuries can significantly impair a person’s ability to communicate. I really can’t even imagine what it would be like, communication is so fundamental to our everyday lives.
Back when I was completing my PhD, the ALS Society of BC
held an engineering design competition where students designed devices to improve the quality of life of people living with ALS. I entered the eye-tracking system I had been working on, and sure enough it won an innovation prize. However, the unit ultimately didn’t help anyone with ALS, I only had one system and I needed it to complete my thesis!
When I started Mirametrix, I looked long and hard at supplying systems for the assistive market, but ultimately decided there was no need for another high cost system ($5,000 at the time, beyond the price point of most people). There were already players doing a great job servicing the market – LC Technologies
to point out a particularly great company.
Ultimately, I never sold a single unit for assistive communication. And I have to say – I do regret that a bit, but I had a loftier goal. If I could develop an eye-tracker at a consumer price point, individuals with need of a communication device could simply head out to BestBuy and just pick one up. No need to use your insurance for support, or figure out some complex financial instruments to acquire a tool vital to quality of life.
At Gazepoint, I hope we finally reach that goal and make eye-tracking readily available to those who need it most!