The first part of this movement will be a yearlong computer science senior project this school year, in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The project will utilize an open-source predictive typing software, which is stable and well documented. We are also considering alternate sources of predictive typing databases and other infrastructure systems, especially ones where the database can be stored locally on a patient’s tablet not needing to constantly access the internet.
The major task for the first year of the senior design project is to develop a reliable predictive-typing software which runs on a generic Android or Windows-8 tablet, and which uses one the following 2 hardware platforms for eye tracking:
- TheEyeTribe hardware for better eye tracking accuracy, running on Windows 8 on a Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet,
- The Pupil system that is like wearing glasses but where a commodity webcam tracks eye movement.
Initial useable prototypes of both systems above will be completed by May 2014. We anticipate it would be 6-12 months after that until real ALS patients (outside of a few beta testers in Pullman) could use it.
The project will also investigate the integration of the eye tracking systems we develop with a motorized wheelchair. This would give ALS patients an affordable option to use the wheelchair after their hand and arm muscles don’t allow them to use its joystick. We do not expect a full implementation this school year, but a preliminary investigation and initial design could be done in the spring (if we recruit an extra student or two) so that prototyping work could begin in Fall 2014. We also may begin support for iPad then (we are avoiding it at first because it is a closed ecosystem and there is no compelling reason to use it to start with such as there is with Win8 to use TheEyeTribe hardware).