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Smartphone app to help ALS patients speak with their eyes!

WASHINGTON, Feb 19:  Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a low-cost smartphone app that allows people with ALS and other motor impairments to easily communicate with eye gestures in real time.
For people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or other motor impairments, the current eye-tracking input systems are expensive, not robust under sunlight, and require frequent re-calibration and substantial, relatively immobile setups, said researchers.
Eye-gaze transfer (e-tran) boards, a low-tech alternative, are challenging to master and offer slow communication rates.
To mitigate the drawbacks of these two status quo approaches, researchers including Harish Kulkarni from Microsoft Research and Xiaoyi Zhang from University of Washington in the US, created GazeSpeak.
GazeSpeak can interpret eye gestures in real time, decode these gestures into predicted utterances and facilitate communication, with different user interfaces for speakers and interpreters.
“Our evaluations demonstrate that GazeSpeak is robust, has good user satisfaction and provides a speed improvement with respect to an e-tran board; we also identify avenues for further improvement to low-cost, low-effort gaze-based communication technologies,” researchers said.
When a tripod or phone stand is available, speakers could choose to use GazeSpeak in the front-facing mode with minimum help from the caregivers, they said. (AGENCIES)

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