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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] NYTimes.com Article: A Gaze That Dictates, With Intuitive Software as the Scribe

Gary. It is really very good of you to bring relevant stuff from the NYT to this forum. They are an excellent newspaper even though they may be four months behind Fleabyte ;-] But let there be praise where praise is due: they have fewer typos.

Kidding aside, the articles by Lohr, for example, are sound, workmanlike stuff - some of it we can make use of, e.g. http://www.fleabyte.org/#fo-41


Gary Richmond wrote:

Thanks, Henry

I'm new to unrev and fleabye, so forgive me if I post anything that's
been discussed before I arrived. :-\

There are several other demonstrations and a download area at

which is the homepage of the site Jack posted


Henry K van Eyken wrote:

> ... and http://www.fleabyte.org/eic-9.html#2AQ
> Geez, I am getting to be unfit for this job.
> Henry
> Henry K van Eyken wrote:
>> Not trying hard enough, apparently. Reference should be
>> http://www.fleabyte.org/eic-15.html#2L
>> :(
>> Henry K van Eyken wrote:
>>> Gary.
>>> You might like the little Dasher gif found at
>>> http://www.fleabyte.org/eic-14.html#2L
>>> We had been following this story for some time, see
>>> http://www.fleabyte.org/eic-8.html#2AO
>>> You'll find there also references to some other input systems
>>> Henry
>>> P.S. If I am tooting our own horn a little bit, it is because
>>> Fleabyte is trying very hard to create a connection between people
>>> and digital augmentation.
>>> garyrichmond@rcn.com wrote:
>>>> This article from NYTimes.com
>>>> has been sent to you by garyrichmond@rcn.com.
>>>> Dasher--demonstrations and download.
>>>> garyrichmond@rcn.com
>>>> A Gaze That Dictates, With Intuitive Software as the Scribe
>>>> September 12, 2002
>>>> PEOPLE who cannot use a keyboard or mouse - quadriplegics
>>>> or those with Lou Gehrig's disease, for instance - often
>>>> use their gaze instead.
>>>> Typically they select characters to type by staring at keys
>>>> pictured on an onscreen keyboard; in many systems, the
>>>> direction of their gaze is then captured by a computer
>>>> equipped with an eye-tracking system.
>>>> Now gamelike software developed by two British physicists
>>>> at the University of Cambridge promises to speed up this
>>>> laborious process, permitting rapid, accurate writing by
>>>> eye.
>>>> Dr. David J. C. MacKay, a professor at the university's
>>>> Cavendish Laboratory and leader of the research team, said
>>>> that the new software relieves eyes of peering fixedly at
>>>> successive areas on the screen when writing.
>>>> "Eyes did not evolve to push onscreen buttons," he said.
>>>> "That's exhausting." Instead, the software, called Dasher,
>>>> uses a different capability of the eye - its natural knack
>>>> for navigating, for instance, when walking down the street,
>>>> driving a car, or, in the case of Dasher, playing what
>>>> often looks and feels like an onscreen game.
>>>> Although its purpose is serious, the software, which the
>>>> researchers described last month in the journal Nature, is
>>>> reminiscent of many enjoyable computer games. At the start,
>>>> Dasher displays the letters of the alphabet in a column on
>>>> the right side of a colorful screen. As the user's eyes run
>>>> down the column and locate the first desired letter, say
>>>> the "h" to begin "hello," the view on the computer screen
>>>> zooms in so that the area around the "h" grows larger and
>>>> the letter stands out, appearing to float on the screen.
>>>> Then the software predicts the most likely successor to
>>>> join that "h," releasing "a, e, i, o, u" as possible
>>>> candidates for selection. People use their gaze to choose
>>>> the letters they want - or reject those they don't - helped
>>>> by the software, which poses likely options to complete
>>>> "hel" like "hello."
>>>> After an hour's practice, Dasher users could write at up to
>>>> 25 words per minute, compared with 15 words per minute for
>>>> users of the onscreen keyboard. Onscreen keyboard users had
>>>> five times the error rate of Dasher users.
>>>> John Paulin Hansen, an associate professor at the IT
>>>> University of Copenhagen who does research on eye-typing
>>>> systems, said that Dasher was a fast, intuitive way of
>>>> typing for people who cannot use their limbs.
>>>> "This work is a breakthrough in terms of typing speed," he
>>>> said. "Twenty-five words is really something."
>>>> The software is free and can be downloaded at
>>>> www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher. The program can be
>>>> controlled with an ordinary mouse; Dasher can be directed
>>>> by a variety of continuous pointing gestures, including
>>>> those made by a mouse or a gaze transduced by an eye
>>>> tracker. In an experiment in which a mouse was used as the
>>>> steering device, Dasher's capability was reported at 34
>>>> words per minute. Because of its versatility, Dasher may
>>>> one day prove useful for writing on miniature computer
>>>> screens, Dr. MacKay said.
>>>> For the test that was reported in Nature, Dr. MacKay and
>>>> his collaborator, David J. Ward, used the text of Jane
>>>> Austen's "Emma," feeding Dasher 90 percent of the novel so
>>>> that the software would be familiar with its style. Then
>>>> people in the experiment took dictation from the remaining
>>>> 10 percent of the book. They listened to sentences like
>>>> "One thing only was wanting to make the prospect of the
>>>> ball completely satisfactory to Emma," and reproduced them
>>>> at their computer screens with hands-free writing, using
>>>> their gaze to create the text. The results were compared
>>>> with parallel sessions in which people used an onscreen
>>>> keyboard and eye tracker to take dictation.
>>>> The eye tracker used in the experiment was manufactured by
>>>> EyeTech Digital Systems of Mesa, Ariz. The president of the
>>>> company, Robert Chappell, said he planned to bundle Dasher
>>>> with the gaze-tracking device.
>>>> "Not everybody is going to switch," he said. "Some people
>>>> may prefer to look at a big rectangle on a computer screen
>>>> and choose each letter." But he said he expected that
>>>> Dasher would appeal to many of his customers. "It's like
>>>> driving a car - you steer after the letters and you see
>>>> words form, so you can navigate your way to phrases and
>>>> sentences."
>>>> Dr. Fraser Shein, an engineering professor at the
>>>> University of Toronto who is a creator of an onscreen
>>>> keyboard, said that Dasher had potential. "His approach may
>>>> be more advantageous than pointing to a keyboard with
>>>> fixed-size keys that must be pushed usually by activating a
>>>> physical switch or pausing over a key," he said.
>>>> But Dasher may not be appropriate for users who need a full
>>>> range of writing and editing functions, he said. He also
>>>> had reservations about the display, which he thought might
>>>> tax users. "It requires the eye to view many alternatives
>>>> which are constantly changing," he said.
>>>> Dr. Hansen said he wondered how well the elderly would
>>>> adapt to Dasher and that he planned to devise experiments
>>>> to test that concern. "The floating characters in Dasher
>>>> are a new approach that you have to get used to," he said.
>>>> "We think it is a natural for youngsters, but we'll need
>>>> information to clarify the issue of whether the elderly
>>>> will be comfortable."
>>>> Dr. MacKay has some advice for people learning to use
>>>> Dasher, regardless of their age. "Start by driving slowly,"
>>>> he said, that is, pointing your gaze or mouse in the
>>>> direction you want to go and then heading there at a
>>>> moderate pace. "Start as you would if you were driving a
>>>> lawn mower," he said. "After about 10 minutes, you can
>>>> switch to a Ferrari."
>>>> http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/12/technology/circuits/12NEXT.html?ex=1033098937&ei=1&en=984c8badb4d219c0
>>>> <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/12/technology/circuits/12NEXT.html?ex=1033098937&ei=1&en=984c8badb4d219c0>
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