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Czech eye-controlled computer device nominated for EU prize

An eye-controlled computer device developed by researchers from the Czech Technical University (CVUT) in Prague to serve handless computer users is among the twenty best inventions nominated for the European Union Grand Prix for information technologies. Although the Grand Prix will be awarded to only three winners in spring 2006, the CVUT can be sure of gaining the "minor prize" since, among 500 entries, the CVUT's invention is the only project from Central and Eastern Europe that has advanced to the competition final.

06.01.2006

"It is an aide that could influence in a fundamental way the lives of hundreds of disabled people in the Czech Republic and tens of thousands throughout Europe," says Vladimir Marik, head of the CVUT cybernetics department that is behind the invention.

The principle of the device is simple. The computer user puts on glasses frames with a miniature camera that scans the movement of the eye’s pupil, which is then transferred to the movement of the cursor on the computer screen.

"When the user looks to the right, the cursor moves to the right and when he looks to the left, it moves to the left. It is enough for the user to blink for the cursor to make a click and the eye should be kept shut longer for a double click," Marcela Fejtova, one of the developers of the project, explains.

The innovative nature of the Czech people is illustrated by the fact that the developers of this invention were inspired by an article from which they learnt that in the case of muscle atrophy, muscles around the eye show the highest resistance. The idea to use the eye as a replacement for hands was only the next step.

The device allows the user to browse the internet, play computer games, read e-mail messages and even write e-mail messages using the virtual keyboard on the computer screen. It is being demonstrated in Brussels’ Charlemagne Palace, one of the buildings used by the European Commission.

The equipment has been tested in Prague's Jedlicka Institute for the disabled. According to professor Marik, Olympus, a maker of optical products, has shown interest in the device and the possibility of other uses in medical equipment is also being studied.

Source: Czech News Agency (2. 12. 2005)