March 21, 2010 AT 10:48 am

Paralyzed Graffiti Artist Draws With His Eyes

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Paralyzed Graffiti Artist Draws With His Eyes @NPR

A group of artists and hackers have crafted a gadget that lets a paralyzed graffiti artist continue making art using only his eyes. And it costs about as much as an iPod shuffle.

Zach Lieberman of the Graffiti Research Lab started working on the EyeWriter with one man in mind: Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Tony Quan. In 2003, Quan was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, leaving virtually every muscle in his body paralyzed except for his eyes. Lieberman and developers from Free Art and Technology, OpenFrameworks and the Ebeling Group were inspired to create low-cost, open-source hardware and software for eye-tracking to help Quan draw again.

Eye-tracking technology, where computers and small cameras harness eye movements for writing, highlighting Web site text and other tasks, has lead to digital tools for disabled users. However, as Lieberman tells NPR’s Liane Hansen, those devices usually have hefty price tags.

An open source hardware project.

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