Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The EyeHarp: An Eye Tracking Based Musical Instrument

The main goal of the 
Zacharias Vamvakousis EyeHarp project is to allow people with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to play music using only their eyes. To build this, Zacharias was inspired by the EyeWriter open source initiative: "...a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes". Zacharias spent only 50 euros to build his eye tracker using a modified version of the Sony PS3 eye camera. The application is implemented in openframeworks v0.6. 

Alternatively, the instrument can be controlled using the mouse pointer (MouseHarp version). Then the free software camera mouse can be used to control the instrument with head movements. Any technology that can take control of the mouse pointer can be used in order to control the instrument. That way the mouseHarp could be an appropriate instrument for many cases of people with physical disabilities. The mouseHarp version is completely independent from the eyeWriter project. Combining the mouseHarp source with the source of the eyeWriter project, we get the eyeHarp! A low-cost gaze controlled musical instrument! Both versions are free and open source.

The EyeHarp project is part of Zacharias 
master thesis in Sound And Music Computing in UPF, Barcelona. His supervisor is Rafael Ramirez.

A paper on the application has been published:

  • Vamvakousis Z., Ramirez R. (2011) The Eyeharp: Aa Eye-Tracking-based Musical Instrument. SMC Conference 2011, Padova, Italy (PDF

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