As the date for the next big Windows 10 update approaches, Microsoft today released its latest developer preview, which includes a beta version of a new eye control system.
Borne out of a Microsoft hackathon challenge inspired by former NFL player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Eye Control enables disabled users with compatible eye tracker devices to operate Windows 10 PCs through gaze alone.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, expected to arrive next month, will bring several improvements to the Microsoft Edge browser and will also update the default colors in the Windows Console for the first time in more than 20 years. The color changes are aimed at making text easier to see and read on today’s high-contrast screens.
Available in beta through the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16257 released today, Eye Control lets users with limited mobility type, control a mouse and convert text to speech with compatible eye tracker accessories. The first such device to support those capabilities is the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C, announced yesterday by Tobii, a Sweden-based company that specializes in assistive technology.
“This collaboration clearly shows the value of eye gaze input and is a big step forward on the long-term journey to drive high-volume adoption of eye tracking,” Tobii CEO Henrik Eskilsson said yesterday in a statement.
Microsoft began working with partners in the ALS and motor neuron disease (MND) community during its first hackathon three years ago, following a challenge by Gleason. Gleason had sent an email to Microsoft asking the company to develop a technology that would make it easier for him and others like him to control a wheelchair and communicate.
That challenge led to the concept of an Eye Gaze Wheelchair, which won the 2014 hackathon grand prize. Since then, Microsoft…