Eye-trackers, devices that use small cameras to measure the motion of eyes, are often used to assist the disabled in digitally highlighting and spelling text. The technology is extremely expensive, with costs ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 for each pair. Yet Zachary Lieberman, the co-creator of OpenFrameworks and an assistant professor at Parsons, developed an eye-tracker for only $50.
Speaking at our recent Most Creative People event, Lieberman (featured as #36 on our list) told audiences the powerful story of how L.A. graffiti artist Tony Quan inspired his invention, which he calls the EyeWriter. Quan, who was paralyzed from Lou Gehrig’s disease seven years ago, was only able to communicate with his eyes. But with Lieberman’s innovative technology, created from open-source software and off-the-shelf components, Quan was able to draw images, write words, and eventually spray graffiti once again.
“[It] was the first time I’ve drawn anything since 2003,” said Quan, of Lieberman’s invention. “It feels like taking a breath after being held underwater for 5 minutes.”
Lieberman also discussed his stunt-driving typography, interactive paintings, and what he calls the “Open Mouth Phenomenon,” or more accurately, the “Holy F*ck Moment.” I urge you watch his inspirational talk below; I promise you’ll know exactly what he means by this by the video’s end.