A couple of months ago, Microsoft outlined the accessibility improvements that will be making their way to Windows 10 in the Fall Creators Update, including enhancements to Narrator as well as the reading and writing experience. Today, the company has announced that support for eye tracking will be making its way to the operating system.
Microsoft says that it was contacted by former NFL player Steve Gleason back in 2014, who urged the firm to work on the accessibility feature. Gleason has a neuromascular disease named amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which results in difficulties in muscle movements. However, eyes are one of the organs that remained unaffected by this disease.
Microsoft accepted the challenge and its hackathon event, the firm's employees managed to successfully build the EyeGaze Wheelchair which, as the name implies, can be controlled using eye movement. Realizing this breakthrough technology's significance to ALS patients as well as those with other disabilities, the Redmond giant decided to build support for eye tracking in Windows 10.
The result of the company's tireless efforts is that people with disabilities can now control an onscreen mouse, a keyboard, as well as text-to-speech capabilities using only their eyes in Windows 10. The feature has been dubbed "Eye Control", and utilizing it requires the use of an external peripheral, like the Tobii 4C eye tracker. The firm plans to add support for more hardware soon. Microsoft says that:
The source of the motivation is simple. It's our opportunity to embody the mission of the company, to ‘empower every person and organization to achieve more’ combined with the power of One Week. Now in its fourth year, One Week brings together thousands of Microsoft employees from across the globe to generate new ideas that push the boundaries of technology and solve real-world challenges. During this year’s hackathon, we asked our employees, “Who will you empower?” That mentality, combined with a passionate belief in the transformational power of technology, is a magic combination.
Eye Control is in beta right now and can be tested by joining the Insider Program. Microsoft has stated that the feature is in stages of "early testing", so it is logical to assume that it won't be ready for public use in time with the launch of the Fall Creators Update.