Ms Vivian Goh, 41, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a neuromuscular disease that causes her muscles to waste away progressively. Unable to move her limbs and body, she spends her days confined to her bed.
Despite being unable to type or use a mouse, this jovial woman uses eye-gaze technology and her laptop to run and manage her small e-commerce business on Facebook — selling clothes, face masks and an assortment of products.
To access her computer with a Tobii Dynavox PCEye Mini eye-gaze device, Vivian looks at each on-screen icon to execute a command and on-screen keyboard to type from her laptop. The eye-gaze device placed at the bottom of her laptop’s screen starts tracking her gaze, and almost instantly executes her command and “types” out her choice of letters or keys for her. With the help of the eye-gaze system, she can also engage her customers on Facebook and WhatsApp independently, as well as edit and publish product photos on her online store.
When she is not busy managing her online business, Vivian enjoys connecting with her friends, playing online games, watching YouTube videos and attending online church services, all with the support of her eye-gaze system.
Vivian said: “The eye-gaze technology is as good as using my hand to type. It is very easy to use. And with it, I can do so many things on my computer.”
About Eye-gaze Technology
The eye-gaze technology uses an invisible infrared light source to project light onto the user’s eyes, from which the reflected light is captured by the device’s high definition camera to determine exactly where the user is looking, and for calculating the position of the user’s eyes.
With this technology, a computer or mobile device can be controlled simply through eye movements. It can be critical for those who are unable to use a mouse or keyboard as the system helps them overcome their mobility limitations and challenges of communicating and interacting with the world.
Vivian said: “The eye-gaze technology is very good and convenient. It helps me to be independent.”
Watch this video to learn how Vivian uses the eye-gaze system to access her laptop, such as to type a Word document, browse and navigate the web with just her eyes:
(Video credit: SPD Singapore - “Using eye gaze device to manage an online business, play games & more [Have a SPlenDid Day: Ep 02]”)
(Photo credit: SPD Singapore - Screenshot of video “Using eye-gaze device to manage an online business, play games & more [Have a SPlenDid Day: Ep 02]”)
Examples of Eye-gaze Devices
Assistive technology helps persons with disabilities like Vivian lead more independent lives and overcome challenges in their daily living, lower the barriers in their work and maximise their potential. Costs of Vivian’s laptop were covered by the Mediacorp Enable Fund, while her eye-gaze system was subsidised by the Assistive Technology Fund, which provides subsidies for persons with disabilities to purchase assistive technology devices to enable independent living. Both funds are administered by SG Enable. Vivian also received support in assistive technology through Tech Able, which is co-managed by SG Enable and SPD.