By David Meyer
August 3, 2017

Microsoft has started testing a new Windows 10 feature that could make the operating system much more accessible to those with disabilities: Eye Control.

As the name suggests, Eye Control allows people to use their eyes to control an on-screen mouse and keyboard, and to operate Windows 10’s text-to-speech functionality. A camera tracks eye movements to judge where on the screen the user is looking.

This is a big deal for people with impaired muscle movement, for example. When Microsoft announced the feature a couple days ago, it cited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the condition that took playwright and actor Sam Shepard last week.

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Eye Control made its first appearance on Wednesday in a Windows 10 “insider preview build”, designed to let people and companies play around with upcoming functionality before it’s rolled out to the general public.

The feature needs a compatible eye-tracking camera, which are at the moment only produced by a Swedish company called Tobii. Tobii, which targets the gaming and research sectors as well as aiding accessibility, said testing was “currently being finalized” for Eye Control compatibility in computers from Acer, Alienware and MSi.

In its Wednesday release statement for the new Windows 10 build, Microsoft said it was “open to working with additional hardware vendors to provide customers a broader set of hardware options to enable this experience.”


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