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Friday, February 13, 2015

Biometric equipment signals a technology industry ripe with growth

Bio-metric innovation
Biometrics is used across a range of industries
Biometric equipment that enables individuals to write script using their eyes has existed for a while now. It is one of many innovations that make the information age seem more like the technological era in human history.

An example of one particular piece of equipment is the "eye-writer" developed by a doctor named Jean Lorenceau; it consists of a digital interface that uses contrast adjustments and recognition software to translate eye movements to a “temporally modulated display” script per Jesus Dias of Gizmodo. This equipment and similar devices are also used to create art and assist with rehabilitative medical services.

The eye-writer developed by Lorenceau works by tracking eye-movements and representing specific movements with script patterns. Using the specialized software and hardware in combination with a visual display screen enables the person using the device to monitor their progress and learn which movements result in specific scripts. On the screen the writing appears similar to an etch-o-sketch. What is particularly unique about Lorenceau's eye-writer is that it manipulates the eye into moving ways it normally would not according to Science Daily.

A major advantage of the Loreneau eye-writing device is that it assists disabled, injured and recovering individuals with communication, functionality and skill development. For instance, it provides a way for individuals with diseases such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS who have difficulty writing to improve their quality of life. The training period for using the biometric equipment is relatively short. According to Gizmodo, as little as 90 minutes are needed to learn how to use the device.

A disadvantage of the eye-writer is that it is relatively slow in terms of writing speed. After the aforementioned training period, the estimated speed of writing is just 20 characters per minute, or  two to three words. Moreover, similar manual devices such as letter boards that are used with the assistance of a medical professionals spell out letters and words equally fast, if not faster. Additionally, so long as the eye-writing device is restricted for use in medical facilities or select healthcare services only, then it is only helpful to a limited demographic. Some eye-writers ,and similar devices such as the device that enables acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking to talk are also prohibitively expensive per the Standard.

Competition in eye-writing technology has helped ensure progress in the field. For example, affordable open source software is being developed for use with affordable devices such as the PlayStation Eye according to the builders of Eye Writer. This product is the result of a collaboration of research initiatives apart from that of Lorenceau. The medical value of this type of equipment to disabled individuals is profound. Furthermore, as subsequent generations of the technology build upon continued research in eye tracking to improve equipment capacity, increase speed, and enhance functionality, the benefits and utility of eye writing equipment will only get better.

Image license: FBI, "Portable bio-metrics equipment"; USGov-PD