Samsung Unveils New-Gen Mouse Controlled by Eye Movements

Designed for people with disabilities that prevent them from using a traditional mouse, the EYECAN+ device wirelessly calibrates itself to the user's eye.

Samsung Eyecan+ Mouse

Samsung has introduced the second generation of its EYECAN+ computer mouse, which allows people with physical disabilities to control the device with eye movements, rather than with their hands and arms.

The latest EYECAN+ mouse enables users to compose and edit documents as well as explore the Internet using a browser, but does not require them to wear related devices, such as special eyeglasses, to operate it, according to a Nov. 25 post on the Samsung Tomorrow blog. The EYECAN+ device is a portable box that sits below a computer's monitor and is wirelessly calibrated to the user's eye, according to Samsung.

"EYECAN+ is the result of a voluntary project initiated by our engineers, and reflects their passion and commitment to engage more people in our community," SiJeong Cho, vice president of Samsung community relations, said in a statement.

Samsung said it will not commercialize and sell the EYECAN+ devices but will instead manufacture a limited quantity that it will donate to charitable organizations. "Both the technology and design of EYECAN+ will soon be made open-source, and made accessible to companies and organizations that wish to commercialize the eye mouse," the company stated.

To use the EYECAN+, a user must be within 23.6 inches to 27.5 inches of the device, according to Samsung. It can be used in a sitting or reclined position. The necessary calibration is only needed the first time the device is used by its owner since it will remember each user's eye characteristics, the company said.

"Once calibrated, the EYECAN+ user interface (UI) will appear as a pop-up menu in one of two different modes, rectangular menu board or floating menu wheel, both of which contain 18 different commands," the post continued. "The use of all 18 commands solely requires eye movement and blinking, and each command can be selected by looking directly at the relevant icon and blinking once."

The 18 commands include copy, paste, select all, drag and drop, scroll and zoom in, according to the post. Additional custom commands can also be created to include existing keystroke commands, such as close program (Alt+F4) and print (Ctrl+P).

The original EYECAN was introduced in March 2012 and had less calibration sensitivity and fewer features than the second-generation device, according to Samsung.

It has been significantly upgraded in part through the help of Hyung-Jin Shin, a graduate student in computer science at Yonsei University in Seoul, according to Samsung. "Born quadriplegic, Shin had worked with Samsung on EYECAN between 2011-12, and took on a key role in developing the EYECAN+ UX by piloting the eye mouse over the course of 17 months and extensively working with Samsung engineers to ensure the burgeoning array of functions and commands remain practical and easy to access and use."

The EYECAN+ project includes development work on software and hardware to help people who cannot move their bodies due to Lou Gehrig's disease, Lock-in Syndrome and other physical disabilities, according to the project.

Source code for EYECAN+ software can be downloaded from the project's Website.

The EYECAN project was started by a small group of Samsung Electronics employees with a goal of helping users to operate computers by converting their eye movements into computer input, according to Samsung.

Other technology companies also continue to do work in this area. In July, IBM appointed its first-ever Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO), Frances West, who has been given the responsibility to redefine accessibility for users and ensure that all users can have access to technology. She started at IBM Research as the leader of the Human Ability & Accessibility Center.

West has served on the board of directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Assistive Technology Industry Association and the U.S. Business Leadership Network, among others. She currently sits on the board of the World Institute on Disability, is a trustee at the National Braille Press and is an adviser to the National Business & Disability Council.