Six Months Interning on the EyeWriter with Zach Lieberman

By MFA Interaction Design on January 19, 2011

Second-year student Clint Beharry has worked on the EyeWriter project as an intern. He shares updates on his personal involvement and accolades the project has garnered.

After taking a Summer Intensive course with faculty member Zach Lieberman, second-year student Clint Beharry has since worked on the EyeWriter project as an intern. Below, he shares updates on his personal involvement and accolades the project has garnered:

As a good intro to the EyeWriter 2.0, my first task on the project was to help write the manual on building a new unit. Of course, this involved me actually building one. Luckily, I had the help of another intern, Takayuki Ito, from Japan. Ito worked on some of the hardware and software for the project, so he was an expert guide as we built and documented.

I gradually learned about the ingenious design behind the EyeWriter 2.0. Using a hacked PlayStation 3 camera and some clusters of IR LEDs, the system reads IR reflections from the back of the eye (the “red-eye” camera effect) to track the user’s pupil. Along with some extremely clever software developed by Zach and several collaborators, this is basically how $200 worth of hardware can mimic the behavior of commercial hardware worth over $10,000. We recently launched the EyeWriter 2.0 manual at Instructables.

The community around the project has been exciting to engage in. Code is committed from around the world to move the project forward. Zach is a highly connected node in the EyeWriter and OpenFrameworks community, but it’s an open source group effort that’s inspiring to see. At the recent Cinekid festival in the Netherlands, Theo Watson from Graffiti Research Lab implemented code from Golan Levin at Carnegie Mellon to draw with a giant robotic arm using the EyeWriter. That’s some pretty sweet collaboration.

New drawing by Tony “Tempt1” Quan

Tony “Tempt1” Quan, the original EyeWriter artist, has also been making new artwork with the EyeWriter 2.0 system. Recently, he had a Kickstarter project funded for some t-shirts, prints, a typeface, and of course drawings from the giant robot arm.

And the last update, Time Magazine selected the EyeWriter as one of 2010’s 50 Best Inventions! That’s quite an honor for a great project. I feel fortunate to be helping out.

Clint Beharry, Class of 2011

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