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Student Internship Project: EyeWriter

Clint Beharry was both a student in the Leaving the Screen: Introduction to Programming for Interactive/Reactive Systems Summer Intensive course, and an intern with Zach Lieberman this summer and continuing in the fall. For the class, he conducted 3D research and learned the building blocks of openFrameworks that he hopes to incorporate in his graduate thesis. As an intern, he works on the hardware, software, and documentation for EyeWriter‘s next iteration.


openFrameworks co-founder Zach Lieberman (right), with graffiti writer Tony Quan (left).

openFrameworks co-founder Zach Lieberman (right), with graffiti writer Tony Quan (left).

The EyeWriter project is an ongoing collaborative research effort to empower people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) with creative technologies. It is a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus and custom software that allow graffiti writers and artists with paralysis from ALS to draw using only their eyes. Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), openFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities have teamed-up with legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, Tony Quan, aka TEMPTONE. Tony was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, a disease which has left him almost completely physically paralyzed… except for his eyes. This international team is working together to create a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow ALS patients to draw using just their eyes. The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eyeart. The group’s ongoing collective efforts have been awarded with the Brit Insurance Interactive Award 2010 and the Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica 2010. Currently in its second iteration, EyeWriter 2.0 uses multiple Infrared (IR) sources to reflectively track pupils, no longer requiring glasses. The hardware can be built with a low-cost PlayStation 3 camera and common circuit components. –Clint Beharry, Summer 2010

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