ALS Computer Use?

MechMantisMechMantis Registered User regular
edited September 2016 in Help / Advice Forum
So, my brother's co-worker's husband has ALS.

This sucks ass.

However, he and his co-worker were brainstorming things that he could do to keep him occupied and not just confined to a wheelchair, even as the disease progresses. My brother was thinking, with the advent of more advanced head tracking and the like, that a computer with some hardware/software would help with the 'I am stuck in a wheelchair and can't do anything' problem, and since I generally know more about computer hardware/software than he does, asked me for help.

I got nuffin.

Is anyone aware of any good consumer-level hardware or software that'd do eye-tracking/gesture stuff? I know TrackIR/FreeTrack is available for head-tracking, but having it do mouse-work and the like would probably take some doing. And I have no idea how I'd be able to make it emulate clicks, and my brother wants this system to be able to be entirely motor-function free, save, well, head gestures for now. Ideally it'd have full eye tracking but I think that's a little unrealistic.

Some cursory googling reveals some other options (mostly just focused on raw communication) but with the breadth of experience this forum has I'm sure someone's been down this road before.

Any ideas/experience?

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MechMantis on

Posts

  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    Does the able gamers charity have a message board? That would be a fantastic resource.

    I have some experience with setting stuff up for people with disabilities but not nearly as severe as ALS. Eye tracking is tricky, head tracking is easier. If you search "head mouse" that might get you closer to what you want.

    Shadowfire
  • MechMantisMechMantis Registered User regular
    We're already looking at a combination of TrackIR/FreeTrack for use as gesture input (move head up=press THIS button etc via glovepie) and Tobii eye tracking for mouse control. Both aren't THAT expensive so my brother and I are probably gonna experiment with that.

    Right now he can still walk, but has limited hand movement, so even just using TrackIR/FreeTrack for mouse control with some big ol USB buttons for left/right mouse would help. But we're still brainstorming.

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  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    Oh, ok. I once spent a whole summer working in Glove PIE for an accessibility research project but that was eight years ago. :) As I recall what you could do with the scripts was somewhat limited, but maybe it's been worked on more lately? Supposedly Free PIE is the new thing.

    This blog does a good job summarizing a bunch of free/less expensive accessibility options. https://charliedanger.com/i-have-trouble-using-the-mouse-or-keyboard/

    Are you looking into foot pedals or controls?

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    MechMantis wrote: »
    We're already looking at a combination of TrackIR/FreeTrack for use as gesture input (move head up=press THIS button etc via glovepie) and Tobii eye tracking for mouse control. Both aren't THAT expensive so my brother and I are probably gonna experiment with that.

    Right now he can still walk, but has limited hand movement, so even just using TrackIR/FreeTrack for mouse control with some big ol USB buttons for left/right mouse would help. But we're still brainstorming.

    I would definitely try the Tobii EyeX, but calibrate your expectations as it's not perfect; because humans are not perfect. Even their $15,000 are at the mercy of your eyes actually behaving within a certain slice of human norms, which mine do not. (I tried them at a trade show, the look of concealed panic on his face when the tracker was twitching erratically was priceless.)

    Unfortunately, it's the only eye tracker I know of (in production: see also the FOVE HMD) that comes in under five figures.

    That said: It should help. The problems are with fine accuracy, if he can still nudge a mouse into place and use the Tobii for bulk of the action, and the clicking, that might not be too bad.

    Alternative trackers: have you looked at a LEAP? Perhaps you can map general hand motion, rather than fingers, to controls? Or would that be exhausting? Not familiar with how ALS wears you down.

    For foot controls:

    Stinky footboard is a big 4 button pedal, mapped to num 2,4,6,8 by default, but remappable. The required pressure is controlled by three swappable sets of springs with different tensions.

    https://www.amazon.com/Stinky-Gaming-Footboard-Foot-Controller/dp/B00EOPT5ZS

    Not sure if you can use multiples, but could doubke as hand controls as well, as it's essentially a big friendly button. They're a little shorter than a keyboard, but almost twice as wide. Still something you could set in your lap and press with little effort.

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