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Device Helps Eyes Do the Write Thing

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Eye tracking

Some examples of letters, digits, writing and drawings generated by projecting a person's visual imagery.

Credit: Wall Street Journal

French National Center for Scientific Research director Jean Lorenceau has developed a device that enables users to write with their eyes in cursive script on a computer monitor.

"It's like drawing with a pencil, but without a tip," Lorenceau says. Users wear a small infrared video camera to relay their eye movements to the computer screen. It has been problematic for researchers to develop computer-controlled systems in which users voluntarily produce smooth, controlled eye movements. In order to overcome this problem, Lorenceau used an optical illusion called "reverse phi-motion," which uses patterns of contrasting dots on a video screen to create a flickering illusion of motion. He says the illusion helps users gain the precise eye control necessary for cursive script by providing a way for motion-sensitive neurons to orient themselves.

During testing, users were able to produce legible script on a computer screen at a rate of 20 to 30 characters per minute.

From Wall Street Journal 
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