On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a new initiative to make its products more accessible to those living with disabilities. The tech-giant is currently testing a new eye-tracking software which will be integrated into Windows 10.
The feature, simply called “Eye Control,” will utilize Tobii’s Eye Tracker 4C technology, allowing users to interact with their devices through eye movements.
Eye Control began in 2014 at Microsoft’s One Week Hackathon, an event where employees are encouraged to pursue passion projects and innovative ideas. There, former NFL player Steve Gleason, who lives with ALS, challenged software engineers to craft technology that addresses constraints he faces as someone living with a physical disability. Gleason wanted to play with his son and communicate with his wife more easily — everyday activities made difficult by his condition and gaps in disability-friendly technology.
According to iMotions, current low-end laptop compatible eye-trackers can cost between $100 to $1,000, while high-end trackers reach upwards of $10,000. Eye Control, on the other hand, will be available across all devices as part of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. The software will allow users with disabilities to operate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech features using only their eyes
“Bringing Eye Control to Windows 10 will empower people using just their eyes to utilize Windows features.” Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s chief accessibility officer, told The Mighty “We are incredibly grateful for the partnership with the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MND (motor neuron disease) communities for their active engagement and feedback throughout the development cycle. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration to further develop these features in future releases as we continue on our mission to empower people to achieve more.”
Eye Control is currently in beta. Those interested in early testing and feedback can sign up to be a Windows Insider.