New Technique May Allow Paralyzed Patients To Talk With Their Eyes
A person's eyes may say a lot about them, but a new technique may allow paralyzed patients to say even more. French scientists have developed a way to allow paralyzed patients to "write" with their eyes faster and more accurately than ever before.
The secret is in an optical illusion called the "reverse phi motion," in which dots projected onto a screen appear to alternate between black and white. This illusion tricks the eyes into making smooth movements that are normally impossible. Steadying the eyes in this way would allow paralyzed patients to use an eye tracking camera to write out letters faster and more accurately.
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Prior attempts at tracking eyes have failed because the human eye constantly moves, leading to faulty recognition by the software.
Dr. Jean Lorenceau, a French scientist, has been experimenting with the technique and told BBC News he can now write 20-30 characters per minute. In addition, the process is relatively simple to learn -- a patient could be up and running after as little as 90 minutes of training, he said.
Lorenceau is planning future experiments to test the technique on people who suffer from a motor neuron disease. Such people can typically only communicate through winking.
In addition, Lorenceau said the technique may have other applications as well.
"The discovery also provides a tool to use smooth pursuit eye movements as a pencil to draw, write, or generate a signature," he said.
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