Posts Tagged ‘eye tracking’

Google Chooses Ezer Mizion

April 18, 2016

Google.org has announced the allocation of grants to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible and focus on solutions for people with disabilities.

Ezer Mizion was chosen by Google for its project with Click2speak, an Israeli start-up, to develop an on-screen eye-tracking operated keyboard that will enable people with high cognitive function and limited mobility to communicate and control their environment.#GoogleImpactChallenge

Google.org project head Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink wrote: “At Google.org, we support organizations that offer innovative solutions to complex challenges. We’re thrilled to back Ezer Mizion as they help build a world that works for everyone.”

THE PLAN

To develop a virtual, onscreen keyboard operated by eye tracking for people with limited mobility and high cognitive function, enabling them to communicate and control their environment

 

THE PROBLEM

In the U.S. alone, 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices

Many of them also have impaired motor skills and are unable to manage a standard keyboard and benefit from alternative communication options. For them, effective communication is a serious struggle. And since currently available communication technology is both unaffordable and needlessly restrictive, many users have difficulty maintaining personal relationships, independent function and professional productivity.

 

THE SOLUTION

Develop an eye tracking operated keyboard

With a generous grant from Google.org, Ezer Mizion is working with Click2Speak to pilot an on-screen keyboard operated by eye-tracking. Development is based on user feedback and feature requests and will include support for additional languages, platforms, and input devices.

 

THE IMPACT

Facilitate communication with the best-in-class eye-tracking/mouse replacement software

With an affordable, multi-lingual, and easy-to-use on-screen keyboard, users with impaired motor skills and high cognitive ability can communicate easily and benefit from add-on features that enable them to control their environment.

 

 

Introducing Gal Sont, Chief Technology Officer, Click2Speak

Gal holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Mathematics and Computer Science. He has been involved in delivering complex solutions in growing technology organizations, as well as running and establishing the development activities and operations of several companies across international markets.

Gal bring years of extensive experience spearheading the development processes for robust software products in various fields such as E-Learning, social sports websites, online travel, and Big Data.

Gal, married and father to two young daughters, was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2009. Before Gal was diagnosed with the disease, he competed in off road Enduro motorbike races, snowboarding, kite surfing, off road adventure – an adrenaline junkie!

Today his adrenaline rush comes from a different source – he wants to help disabled people in any way he can, starting by writing code that will improve their quality of life. Gal has been programming (mostly using his eyes due to his illness) the ultimate user-friendly, on-screen virtual keyboard for the benefit of disabled individuals who are cognitively competent but cannot use their voices for communicating or manage a manually operated keyboard. The Click2Speak keyboard is controlled by eye tracking and eye-operated communication and control system and features the world’s most advanced Swiftkey prediction engine which leverages its efficiency.

Click2Speak power user: Reuven Kagan

Reuven Kagan is 73 years old, married and father to six children, lives in Israel. Reuven suffers from ALS. He is one of Click2Speak’s power users, relying on Click2Speak for his everyday communication needs and for typing in Hebrew and French. Reuven sends invaluable feedback to the Click2Speak team on a regular basis.

Reuven loves Click2Speak and says: “This amazing product has allowed me to keep working. You have done a great thing for people in my condition.” Reuven is a professional translator and works in translating books from Hebrew to French, using the Click2Speak virtual keyboard for his work!

Reuven first learned about Click2Speak’s software through working closely with Debbie Bental from the Ezer Mizion Augmentative and Alternative Communication Loan Center team, who recommended trying Click2Speak as a communication option.

Debbie says that Click2Speak has made Reuven’s work much more efficient and that he physically tires much less. Reuven is set up with BJoy Ring as a mouse emulator, turning the joystick of his wheelchair into the mouse to control the computer and use Click2Speak’s on-screen keyboard.

For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org

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Gates of Prision Unlocked

June 18, 2014

Communication is taken for granted by the average person. He can enter a store and ask for a coke. He can say ‘excuse me’ and be allowed to pass. He can express his anger when treated unfairly. For some, though, it is not so simple. A stroke patient, an accident victim, a child born with a genetic disorder may be cut off from human communication due to his inability to speak.
Technological advances have enabled innovative devices to be used to provide the patient with the ability to communicate. He may use his finger to point on a communication board. He may touch a selected square on a touch screen or he may type on a keyboard to make his needs, his thoughts and opinions known to others.
In1997, with financial assistance from Israel’s National Insurance Institute, Ezer Mizion opened a loan center to lend out highly specialized Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) equipment.
But what if his cognitive abilities are on par with his peers and he has many thoughts inside his head that he would like to share with others. He may have strong opinions on what is currently being discussed. Yet the standard communication devices cannot be used. He cannot point on a communication board or type on a keyboard because he is not able to extend his arm or maneuver his fingers to do so. Should he remain, his thoughts imprisoned, locked away from the outside world, unable to even express a simple need for a drink of water?
In response to their needs, Ezer Mizion is expanding its services to include a Motor Accessibility Unit.
With additional funding from the National Insurance Institute, systems and accessories to make alternative communication devices more accessible to those that are not only speech impaired but also mobility challenged were purchased at a cost of over $250,000. These accessories enable people with significant motor impairments to communicate using special accessibility solutions. The solutions significantly improve quality of life and provide these people with greater independence and active participation in daily life.
In recent years, there has been notable progress at many levels in the use of AAC equipment and speech generating devices in Israel.
The most dramatic development is in the area of controlling the computer by eye tracking (eye gaze systems). The system of gaze control is an independent system that enables a person to have full control over the computer by moving his pupils.
In ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which is characterized by the patient’s progressive deterioration, the ability to use a computer regresses as the disease intensifies. Therefore, it is necessary to find the means of accessibility that is appropriate for each stage, so that the patient can continue using the computer and maintain his communication with those around him.
In addition, other accessories may be called for, such as: dynamic support for the forearms, a smaller keyboard, use of an IPad, and use of a mouse operated by head movements, etc.
With the expansion of the inventory, it is now possible for a patient to borrow this highly specialized equipment and exchange them for others as needed throughout the stages of various illnesses and conditions.
Ezer Mizion occupational therapists perform patient evaluations for computer accessibility in the patient’s home. With disease progression, options are given for a renewed evaluation by Ezer Mizion’s occupational therapist, and based on the new recommendations, to exchange the accessibility accessories, so as to match physical function at any given time.
Obtaining an eye-tracking system is conditional on an evaluation of suitability by professionals approved by the heads of Ezer Mizion’s Accessibility Unit. Devices are loaned for a limited period of 3 months, because of the waiting list for these devices.
Loans are all made free of charge following submission of a security check as collateral and a monthly credit card charge to cover insurance for the duration of the device loan period.
Ezer Mizion’s Communication Aids Lending Center is open: Sun., Tues., and Thurs. from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mon. from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tues. from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. by appointment only.
by Debbie Ben-Tal, OT,
Director, Accessibility Unit
Ezer Mizion Communication Aids Lending Center
For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org