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, in which computers and small cameras harness eye movements for writing, highlighting Web site text and other tasks, has led to digital tools for users with disabilities. However, as Lieberman tells NPR’s Liane Hansen, those devices usually have hefty price tags."Commercial eye-trackers, to get a device is $10,000-$15,000," he says. The EyeWriter is estimated to cost about $50. He and his hacker colleagues have a do-it-yourself kit for building an EyeWriter that starts with a pair of sunglasses. For Lieberman’s prototype, he bought a pair from a vendor at Venice Beach."Then we assembled a kind of wire frame that holds a Web cam, a small camera that we've mounted close to the eye," he explains. "We've written software that tracks the eye, and then we calibrate with [Quan's] eye movements and the computer screen."
Quan can draw lines and color within them, though graffiti-writing with the EyeWriter is nowhere near as fast as shaking up a can of spray paint and drawing by hand."But he can plot points. And from plotting points, create letters. And from creating letters, create words. And then color the words, shade the words, extrude them in 3-D, add different features," Lieberman says.The artist-hacker team studied Quan's art and his love of letter forms in order to produce the most effective software for him. They've just won a FutureEverything Award for innovation. That honor includes a cash prize, but Lieberman says he and the developers aren't interested in following the stereotypical storyline for a tech start-up: splashy launch, market saturation, initial public offering, high-priced sale. They want to help people who could use the EyeWriter to communicate, whether by graffiti or much simpler written words."There are people who have loved ones who have ALS or locked-in syndrome ... or other diseases, where having that option, at least, of a kind of device that you can build for somebody in need is really important and really necessary," he says. "We're not in it to make money. This is really coming from the heart." Copyright 2010 National Public Radio
Now that the weather is really warming up and I have measuring tape, it is time to take walks and start measuring street furniture! Anyone interested leave a comment. It's best to travel in pairs, anything more than 3 people walking at night is pretty shady.
I would also like members to let me know which days this week work best for them. That way I can pick the day for the biggest attendance. Also, let me know what you think about earlier meetings we can hold outside.
For those actively involved or contemplating yarn bombing, try to come up with a tag name. It's great for leaving your mark on pieces of work. One of the most important parts of this group for me is community, so I came up with Camus Knitty (pronounced like Camoo, Camoo-Knitty, get it?). KGC buttons are on their way. There is a limited supply for now, but depending on demand or cash donations we can order more.
I'm also looking for contributors to this blog. Blogspot is free and confidential. Post your projects. Even if they aren't street related they may inspire others. Post found work on websites, articles, spray graffiti, anything related. It's time to expand.
One of our most active members shared this with some of us today. Reminds me of that great Banksy piece that I'm going to try to make a part of this page...