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February 21, 2024
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Tech Tuesday: NASA’s Visual Communication


Eye-tracking technology developed in collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Eyegaze Inc. has significantly improved accessibility for individuals with disabilities, allowing them to communicate, control devices, and even play video games using only their eyes. The technology has been miniaturized, made more affordable, and integrated with various devices and software to enhance the quality of life for users.

When a physical condition limits mobility, getting around is easier with EyeGaze Edge, an eye-tracking technology that integrates with the Ability Drive application for hands-free control of a wheelchair. Work by JPL and Eyegaze Inc. has made this technology more widely accessible to individuals with disabilities, enabling them to connect one-on-one over the phone or via the internet using eye movement.

The collaboration between NASA and Eyegaze began in 1998 to make eye-tracking hardware smaller, more portable, and affordable. Over the years, advancements have led to the development of Eyegaze Edge, which can calibrate to an individual’s gaze in less than 15 seconds, providing a range of functionalities including controlling a wheelchair, operating electronic devices, and communicating with others online.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Eyegaze integrated communication programs such as Zoom and WhatsApp to facilitate connections with family and friends, while also offering entertainment options like virtual tours, music streaming, and access to online gaming communities. The technology has proven to be a lifeline for individuals with conditions that limit physical movement and speech, allowing them to express themselves and interact with the world around them.

With support from NASA, Eyegaze Inc. continues to innovate and design solutions to meet the ongoing needs of users, ensuring that communication remains a fundamental right for all individuals. The collaboration exemplifies NASA’s commitment to transferring technology to the private sector, ultimately benefiting individuals with disabilities and improving their quality of life.

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