This blog post was written by Daniel Hubbell, Senior Marketing Communications manager at Microsoft. Daniel’s career spans more than 12 years at Microsoft and his current role is focused on increasing the awareness of accessibility with consumers and regularly speaks at events and conferences on the topics of Accessible Technology.
In January I wrote a post titled “Rethinking How We Interact with Technology Using Voice, Touch and Gestures”. As new user interfaces and input methods continue to evolve the challenge becomes how to use these advancements in the most meaningful way. There’s no doubt that these new technologies are exciting, but how can we really make the most of them?
Today one of our partners, Tobii, is releasing the latest in its line of accessibility solutions – the Tobii EyeMobile. The EyeMobile connects to Windows 8 tablets to enable full functionality of the tablet using eye gaze. The technology was optimized to work with the Microsoft Surface, and was built to mirror the functions of Windows 8 that were designed for touch – such as swiping, tapping and scrolling. With EyeMobile, users can enjoy full Microsoft Surface functionality at home, at work, and in the classroom.
(Caption: The Tobii EyeMobile with Microsoft Surface)
Tobii’s technology helps people enjoy the full accessibility of Windows computers using nothing but their eyes. Anything that would normally be done with a mouse, or with touch, can now be done through Gaze Interaction. Imagine the world this will open up for people experiencing issues with dexterity or mobility... the ability to stay connected to friends and family through email and video chat, the option to participate in school activities or continue working, the feeling of true independence.
We are excited and encouraged by our partnership with companies like Tobii that provide unique solutions like the EyeMobile for people with disabilities. This is just the latest demonstration of our commitment to working with partners to develop new capabilities and content that drive accessibility.
We look forward to our ongoing efforts with Tobii and encourage you to watch the EyeMobile video for a look at this remarkable technology.
It is great to see Microsoft finally committing to making some real gains in accessibility for those without the means to use conventional input devices such as keyboards and mice. Now it is time to take it up a notch. I have seen the Tobii eye tracking technology and it is a good start, but what they system lacks is a simple, efficient system for inputting text. For people who can only use head movements or eye motions to control the computer, it is extremely time consuming to "type" words or choose words from a limited menu. There has got to be a better way. If I had the know-how I would do it myself because I know that when engineers are challenged with a seemingly insurmountable problem they are driven and more often than not produce a creative solution that is better than I could have imagined. Well, I am imagining something better, now is time to make it happen.
How can I start using this eye tracking thing? my grandma can't speak and I would love to try it on her.