EyeHarp allows people with disabilities to play music with their eye movement. A user rests their eye on a musical note spaced out on a wheel on the screen. (Image Credit: EyeHarp)
Alexander Kerlidou, a student with cerebral palsy who cannot use her hands or speak, performs harp music just by shifting her eyes across a computer screen. The eye-moving-controlled software, EyeHarp, allows disabled people to play music, which the 21-year-old deemed impossible. Alexander, who wants to become a computer programmer, enjoys popular Greek songs and the piano.
Vanvakousis, a computer scientist and musician, became inspired to develop the software after his friend suffered from a serious injury in a motorcycle accident before they were set to perform in a concert.
The eye-tracking technology, commonly used in medicine, security, and gaming, relies on eye movements to perform commands. Users install the software and use it with their Eyetracker, a camera that monitors eye movement. It’s capable of playing three to four notes every second, offering 25 musical instruments. Everything works with an eye resting on a musical note spaced out on the wheel on a screen. Real-time music playability wouldn’t have been possible without digitizing performances.
The software requires a user to stay disciplined and focused since they need to prevent their eyes from wandering to the next note. Students feel excited when listening to their performance. Children usually begin with the drum sound just to create noise and interact with the environment.
Vanvakousis taught this program in special needs schools in Barcelona. To date, over 2,000 people downloaded his software. Now, the pandemic enabled him to teach cerebral palsy students online. The software is also offered to people with muscular dystrophy, quadriplegia, or a spinal cord injury.
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