Scientists find way to 'type with eyes'
Computer scientists have devised a method of "typing" without a keyboard using clever software that creates words and sentences using eye movements alone.
Two Cambridge University researchers have shown that their invention does not result in eye-strain, is just as fast as conventional typing and results in fewer mistakes.
David Ward and David MacKay, physicists in the university's Cavendish Laboratory, are making the software freely available in the hope that computer firms will use the idea, which promises to revolutionise technology for the disabled.
In a study published today in the journal Nature, the scientists say that the system, which monitors the gaze of the user's eye to type up to 34 words a minute, is faster and more reliable than similar "on-screen" keyboards that rely on eye movements.
The software works by following the eye with a tracker and camera as it runs along a list of letters arranged in alphabetical order on the screen. When the eye fixes on a letter, the computer offers a series of intelligent choices about what the next letter should be.
Dr Ward and Dr MacKay say that it is like choosing a desired piece of text from an enormous library of books on a shelf. Instead of choosing each letter in turn, writing becomes like a navigational task.
"The software works like a video game in which the user steers even deeper into an enormous library. A language model is used to shape this library in such a way that it's quick and easy to select probable sequences of characters, and hard to make spelling mistakes," Dr MacKay said.
To write "hello", the user first gazes on the letter "h" and automatically finds a series of further choices beginning "ha", "hb", "hc and so on. The user enters "he" and the computer offers up the next most likely option, including "hel".
Tests showed that the software, called Dasher, worked so well because it relied on the natural ability of the human brain and eye to make continuous pointing gestures, Dr MacKay said. The language model in the software adapts to a person's writing style so that sometimes several words can be written with a glance.
The researchers are forfeiting patenting rights to Dasher, which can be downloaded free from: www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...