For someone who fine touchscreens, mouse or keyboards inaccessible, eye gaze is an alternative method to allow a user to operate their computer, using the movement of their eyes. Eye gaze systems have been around for about 15 years now, and it’s a technology that has seen significant improvements to both hardware and software over the years with an increasing number of companies involved such as Alea technologies, Tobiidynavox, Eyetech digital systems, EyegazeInc, and Irisbond.
Alea’s IntelliGaze 5 now offers an all-in-one package enabling users to access desktop control, communication, and environmental control
There are a range of mounting options to suit Vesa, Rehadapt, and Dassey
I got a chance to test the Gridpad 12 with Alea camera bundle recently. The Gridpad is a tablet with AAC software Grid 3 installed. The Alea camera is one of their optional modules that can be attached. It connects via the USB port.
I first trialled the Alea camera with just Intelligaze and this enables accurate Windows desktop interaction. The cursor/dot consistently followed my eye gaze fairly closely with no pull in any direction. A zoom feature allows you to select the target area and then zoom in to select fine targets. This part works well.
The Intelligaze menu allows you to left, right, double click and drag. Side menus are activated with an off-screen fixation and will disappear after a few seconds of idle time.
A click inside an edit box or a text field will automatically pop up a keyboard. It can also be opened or closed by a look below the monitor. You can select between using Alea’s own onscreen keyboard with word prediction or use Windows’ own built-in on-screen keyboard.
From this onscreen keyboard a Communicate & Control extension is available with a license.
Although Alea’s Intelligaze allows the user to efficiently control the Windows desktop and applications, to fully benefit the Alea’s camera using 3rd party software is required such as Grid 3, Mindexpress, or OnScreenCommunicator. These programmes will provide features such as an advanced AAC communication system, smart home controller, access to a smartphone or access to email. They also allow a lot of customisation around the user.
I tested this with the Grid3 and the accuracy is very good. It follows my eye gaze around the screen and allowed me to fully navigate the Grid 3 menu. Within the Grid3 settings you can select the desktop interaction (computer control) to use Alea Intelligaze or Grid 3 own controls.
The good: Accurate eye gaze camera
The not so good: Alea’s IntelliGaze Communicate & Control extension is available only with a license.
The verdict: To fully benefit the Alea hardware using 3rd party software such as the Grid or Communicator is required. This will then allow a user to communicate, control smart home devices, access a mobile phone, browse the web, email, play games or watch movies.