by Carmen Watts Clayton
Despite advances in educational technology, tech tools are often found wanting for students with moderate to severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, autism, and other challenging maladies. Many of these students have medical needs that make it laborious to use these teaching tools.
One of the most promising new technologies that could significantly impact the functional abilities of such students is eye-gaze or gestural-controlled computer technology. Eye-gaze computer control has been developing for a few years. Google Glass is an effort at hands-free computer use. Firms like Tobii Technology have developed eye-gaze-controlled augmentive and alternative communication (AAC) which requires glasses to be worn by the user. The system seems to work but the price is out of the range of my poverty-level school district.
However, I recently attended the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas and was excited to find the next generation of eye-gaze technology control on the market and at the right price: FREE. By far the simplest and easiest control I have used, it requires no special glasses or apparatus to be worn, and it is a free app that can be downloaded on any device.
Umoove.me (http://www.umoove.me) offers several games that allow you to experience eye movement technology by tracking your head movement so sensitively it approximates eye tracking. Anyone can do them. I encourage you to try them with yourself, your family, and especially your students. The company claims the app helps one “brain train” for better focus and concentration, and is being widely used with students with ADHD, the fastest-growing attention disability.
HeadStart is a driving arcade game for Android, where you use head movement to move your car right and left to avoid oncoming traffic.
Umoove Flying Experience for iPad and iPhone allows you to fly through a 3D village just by moving your head slightly.
Zombie Watch is a endless runner game for iPhone and iPad that allows the game to be played by using head movement only. The player maneuvers through the gate openings using head-movement.