Saturday, April 13, 2013

In the Eyes

Last week's visit to JHOC and their Assistive Technology Clinic was very good. There was a great selection of hardware on display. All the while, Amanda and I had to keep a simple mentality in mind; prepare for what we will need, not what we currently need.

While it was a smaller selection than I imagined, there were quite a few impressive pieces of technology for me to try at JHOC. The most simple technology was a full sized keyboard with attached small screen...type in the words you want to say, press a button, and the keyboard will say the words you entered. 

Most other technology was some sort of variant of that simple idea - a smartphone instead of a simple keyboard, a tablet instead of a smartphone.

With my hands and arms being the weakest part of my body, all of these products posed one major problem: How would I be able to interact with them when the functionality of my hands decreases further?

 The recurring mantra of making "future-proof" decisions.

 Our visit soon turned in the direction of a product that is definitely future proof; computers you control with your eyes. The product I got to test was the Eye-Gaze. The basic hardware was a 10" tablet with a camera facing the user attached to the bottom. The tablet was running on a version of Windows 7, with a complex piece of communication software layered on the top. The attached camera monitors where your eyes are looking, and a long blink serves as a click. There is a similar product on the market - Tobii - which I hope to try in the next few weeks.

 Why all the testing? Apart from the obvious urge to find the right technology for me, a retail price close to $20,000 makes it a fiscal decision - good or bad - that my family will have to live with.

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