Writing With Your Eyes: A Video Abstract

General Public

A new technique allowing cursive writing using only eye movements received much attention this past summer when the study was published in Current Biology. In this video abstract, Jean Lorenceau of France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), who works at the Center for Research of the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière (CRICM) in Paris, describes how his system works. Relying on a special flickering screen display, an eye tracker, and a visual illusion, the technique makes smooth eye movements possible, which are necessary for writing. This technique may have benefits for patients suffering from paralysis, letting them express themselves more freely, in their own written style, and providing a unique creative outlet.

Digits written with smooth pursuit eye movements. Movements of the eye are tracked with a camera and computer analyzed.
Digits written with smooth pursuit eye movements

“What is funny is that this discovery was made by chance,” Dr. Lorenceau says. “This visual illusion was described in the 70s, but it was kind of useless. Then, 40 years later, somebody comes along and says you can do something with this. I had to change the display a little, make it more controllable and easier to use so it could be used to write and draw, but it shows that, with research, you can not really predict what will be useful someday.”

In this video from MyScienceWork, learn more about the illusion underlying this new tool, and the training that lets your eyes both produce it and take advantage of it.

The video abstract is a new format offered by MyScienceWork in response to researchers’ need to produce a video summary of their study when publishing in certain journals. It is also the chance to provide a clear, visual overview of current research to the public and the media.

Find out more:

“Cursive Writing with Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements”, Jean Lorenceau Current Biology, Volume 22, Issue 16, 1506-1509, 26 July 2012.

(Abstract) http://www.cell.com/current-biology/retrieve/pii/S0960982212006719 Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière http://icm-institute.org/menu/news?lang=en&lang=en (English) http://icm-institute.org/menu/actualites (français)

Risc: Relais d’information sur les sciences de la cognition / A clearinghouse of information for the cognitive science community in France http://www.risc.cnrs.fr/index_fr.php (français) http://www.risc.cnrs.fr/anglais/ (English)

Cognitive Dynamics, the research group of Jean Lorenceau http://cogimage.dsi.cnrs.fr/projets/dyco/dyco_themes.htm#liages (français)

“A novel eye writing device”, CNRS Press Release http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/2083.htm

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