Dubai: People with certain disabilities may now be able to become fully functional on a personal computer or laptop due to an invention by computer engineering student Sultan Ahmad Sultan Al Sharif.
Al Sharif has developed software called the Virtual Mouse: Human Eye based Mouse Control as part of his final year project at Khalifa University (KU). This means a person is now able to control the mouse on a laptop or desktop computer through the movement of their eyes.
"This project is aimed at everyone but specifically for those who have a physical disability," said Al Sharif. "People who can't use their hands or move their bodies can now use our system to control an on-screen mouse with their eyes."
He added the control happens because a person's eye movements are followed by a laptop's embedded camera (or a desktop computer's camera) to move the on-screen mouse.
"To perform a click function you close one eye; either the left or right to perform a left or right click," he said. "If both eyes are closed the computer is sent into sleep mode."
Al Sharif and his supervisors, Dr Harish Bhaskar and Dr Yousuf Iraqi, are currently in the process of patenting the software, a process expected to take up to nearly two years.
How it works
The software was developed at no cost at KU over a period of six months. It uses already existing 2D face detection software and any camera embedded into most modern-day laptops or desktop personal computers.
"This idea stems from various forms of human computer interactions, which have seen systems control computers using hand gestures and head movements," said Dr Bhaskar, assistant professor of computer engineering at KU.
Video: Game-changing software uses eye movement to control computer
Revolutionary software helps people with disabilities to usecomputer through eye movement.
"Sultan's method is one form of human computer interaction, but using the eyes is very natural because you must anyway look into a monitor to use a computer."
Dr Iraqi, assistant professor of computer engineering at KU, added the simplicity of the invention's implementation was to eliminate the need for special equipment. This was in order to make the software accessible to everybody.
The software was therefore designed and implemented on a personal laptop housing a 1.3 mega pixel embedded camera, which can be bought from virtually any electronics shop.
"It's simply software that allows the camera to look at you while you are looking at the screen and follow your eye movements to move the mouse," said Al Sharif. "2D face detection already exists, we just modified and upgraded it to implement eye detection."
The 22-year-old studies engineering because of his love of science and he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.
After graduation he hopes to do a master's degree in engineering and eventually move on to academic research.
However, during his study at the master's level he aims to perfect the virtual mouse software, the first of many inventions to come, as it currently needs tweaking.
At present the software has been developed to detect and pinpoint a registered user's eye movement to an invisible box measuring 1.6 inches (or 120 x 120 pixels) on the monitor but Al Sharif is hoping to make it even more accurate.