An email from a former NFL player living with motor neurone disease inspired a new eye tracking feature in the latest Microsoft operating system.
The Windows 10 Eye Gaze feature was developed after retired American football player, Steve Gleason, challenged employees to create technology that allowed him to play with his son, talk more easily with his wife and move his wheelchair by himself.
Technology experts endeavoured to meet this brief during a Microsoft hackathon. They created the Eye Gaze Wheelchair – a device that allows the user to control the direction of the wheelchair through eye movement.
This invention then inspired the development of a series of built-in features to make Microsoft 10 more accessible for people with disabilities.
Eye tracking technology allows users to operate an onscreen mouse, keyboard, and text-to-speech technology using only their eyes.
The Eye Gaze feature requires a compatible eye tracker, which unlocks access to the Windows operating system to be able to do the tasks traditionally accomplished with a physical mouse and keyboard.
At present, Eye Control is in beta. People interested in becoming involved with early testing and providing feedback can sign up through Windows Insider.