How can I communicate with my cousin when she can only move her eyes?

I apologies if this is not programming-related enough. To keep the non-programming part short: My cousin was just admitted into intensive care with Guillain Barre and is deteriorating. She will (likely) recover physically in a couple of months, but is suffering from extreme depression and panic attacks as she is essentially stuck in a shell of a body that she is losing control over. We may only have a couple more days that traditional methods of communication with her will be useful. My understanding is, however, that she will most likely remain in control of her eye muscles.

So the question is: does anyone know of a good gaze tracking library I can use with consumer hardware (I have a MacBook Pro on hand that I can put Windows or Linux on, and can acquire a selection of consumer to prosumer grade cameras) to build a very simple visual typing interface with?

Essentially so that she can look at a keyboard (fullscreen) and blink to click the key. Or something like that. It needs to be something she is already familiar with (QWERTY) as she is under a LOT of stress right now.

I'm really just trying to get a basic working demo so that I can convince her family that it works. Unfortunately, they are in denial as to just how bad she is going to get so I want to be ready.

Thanks for your help!


Before I get all non-technical, check out Dasher. I used it for a long while on my handheld to type out long messages and it works like a charm. No hunting and pecking, just stare in the direction you want it to move (I used my stylus).

My grandfather was paralyzed from the eyes down from a stroke when I was just a baby. My grandmother worked out a way of talking to him using a piece of cardboard. She had three rows of letters: 1st half, 2nd half, and 3rd half (yes, third half. why, I don't know). The first half had letters A-H, second had I-Q, third had R-Z. She would hold the card up and go through his message letter-by-letter. He would blink when he wanted to choose a letter.

First, she would ask about which half: "First half? Second half?" etc. He would blink when she was on the right one. Then she would start reading off letters and he would blink when she got to the right one. She would right it down.

There was no "space", so you need to do some guess-work to determine some meanings.

Granted, this isn't as "techie" or cool as you might hope for, but it's a hell of a lot more personal than coldly blinking at a computer screen. Also, if the family is going to be using this with her, guess who's going to be touching the computer when you're gone? Not you, and not her. And families aren't great with computers.

Just a suggestion, and it only takes about five minutes to make, requires a sharpie and a pizza box, and only about a minute or two to explain. Sure, it's tedious, but it's also

this is related enough as you are asking about software solutions, though I suggest renaming the question.

Firstly, my condolences to your family, I hope she recovers, and soon.

Look at

there are free and open source offerings listed there, including one from codeproject (C++)

Realizing the original post was made years ago, and just happening to come across it now, I want to share the following in case anyone else is looking for current solutions.

Windows 10, as of the Fall Creator's Update, has built in support for Eye Control and the feature also includes a speech keyboard for communication.

The feature works with any of the supported eye tracking devices, one of which is a low cost but high quality consumer focused product, the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C.

For programmers Windows 10 exposes the Gaze APIs and there is also an open source gazeinteraction library that is part of the Windows Community Toolkit to make it very simple to create a uwp application that responds to your eyes.

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