How do I get started with Eye Gaze?

I received an email the other day, paraphrasing:

I was very intrigued by the attached file article in this morning's New York Times. I have a good friend (22 year old son of a friend) who has had severe cerebral palsy since birth. He is very smart (taught himself 5 languages) but cannot speak and has no motor control except for his eyes and a little bit of head movement. He tried some kind of eye control device for his computer a few years ago but it didn't work well…If my friend could do anything independently on his computer it would totally change his life. I would like him to be able to try out the latest technological advances...

I thought I would share my response to him with you too.

I can suggest a few off the shelf technologies that you can investigate. We’re using a newer eye gaze sensor that has much better results than previous eye gaze technologies: the Tobii EyeX. You can order it for $139 from Tobii’s website.

The EyeX doesn’t come with speech generating software out of the box, but you can add software such as Click2Speak or OptiKey.

For an end to end solution, the Tobii PC Eye Go plus a Surface Pro 3 or 4 is an excellent starting point. This provides the ability to interact with Windows by simulating a mouse as well as a keyboard.

Your friend can also get assistance from Microsoft's Disability Answer Desk which is a great group of people who specialize in helping people living with disabilities.

Hopefully this helps a few more people get started. If you have more questions about getting started with eye gaze technologies, feel free to send them to me in email.