In the last few years, advances in technology have created enormous opportunities for children with cerebral palsy, who may have limited movement due to their motor disorder(s). A University of Michigan graduate, Dr. Bruno Laeng, helped create eye tracking technology that allows people to communicate using an iPad-type device, called the Tobii. Anyone who can use their eyes is able to communicate by using this device. The Tobii has opened doors for children who have limited or no use of their arms or legs and/or can’t speak. It gives them a way to “talk” and enhances their communication. Diplegics are able to use the device, almost as if typing with their fingers.
The Tobii uses eye tracking and gaze interaction technology to determine what the child wants to do, and to allow the child to “speak.” The Tobii is completely operated by the child’s eyes; it picks up the activity of the child’s cornea. It works by using multiple cameras that allow the child to stare at a symbol, phrase or word and “activate” it, similar to the way a mouse click would activate an item on a computer screen. The child is able to spell words, put together phrases, and convey ideas, making it very easy to participate in conversations. This helps in building relationships, taking part in fun and educational activities, and, quite simply, being able to participate in aspects of life that others enjoy.
The Tobii allows a child to communicate with someone who is in the room, who is in the next room, or who is in a different country. The child can listen to music and audio books, agree and disagree, and participate in their care. Tobii gives a child access to the internet so they can use Facebook and Skype, play games, and use educational tools. In addition, the Tobii can allow the child to control things in the house, such as the television or air conditioner. One of the most amazing features of eye tracking technology is that it can “support the diagnosis of certain medical conditions” and tell how a person is feeling.
HOW TOBII TECHNOLOGY WORKS
During the last ten years or so, eye tracking has gained recognition as being a good, direct tool for understanding behavior. The brain automatically directs the eyes to information it is processing. Therefore, watching what a person is looking at can give information about what the brain is processing.
The Tobii eye tracker uses near infrared microprojectors – as well as optical sensors and image processors – to examine a child’s eyes. Mathematical models are used for precise calculations of the eyes’ position and gaze.
The Tobii tracks the following:
- Who the user is. By tracking the user’s eyes, Tobii can identify the user.
- Gaze direction and gaze point. This helps the system understand what is attracting the child’s attention.
- Eye presence detection. This is how the system finds the child’s eyes and knows when to dim the screen and turn the system off.
- Pupil size and dilation. Dilation of the pupils is an indicator of excitement. When this data is combined with the patterns of eye movement as well as facial expressions, the system can tell what emotions and reactions the child is having.
Dr. Laeng, a professor of cognitive neuropsychology, is one of the many scientists whose research was used in creating Tobii technology. Some of Dr. Laeng’s research involves pupil diameter measurement. His research has shown that pupil responses can give a lot of information about the intensity of a person’s mental activity, as well as changes in mental states. Pupillary responses can give important information about a person’s perception and what items a person is giving the most attention to.
The Tobii allows people with disabilities opportunities to interact in new ways, helping create a sense of control and greater independence. For children with cerebral palsy, this type of assistive technology can be life-changing.
About ABC Law Centers
The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy throughout the nation for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the firm’s co-founder, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career, and most of Jesse’s cases involve helping children who have cerebral palsy. Jesse has won many awards for his advocacy of children, and has been recognized consistently in U.S. News and World Report “Best Lawyers in America.”
Cerebral palsy is a difficult area of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the disorder and the medical records that support it. The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have decades of experience specifically in this area. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm today. We handle cases throughout the nation. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, and no fees are ever paid to our firm unless we win your case.