Cogain – Look Ma, no hands!

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We picked up something from ICT results on 24th June – more amazing stuff that’s changing the way we interface with computers. This time it’s emerging from Cogain (Communication by Gaze Interaction), an EU-funded project under eInclusion tasked to use expertise on interface technologies for the benefit of users with disabilities.

Take a look:

The Cogain project was funded to the tune of 2.9 million Euros and has an objective to make this technology available freely to all. This is just what they’ve gone ahead and done; compatible with Tobii and ITU GazeTracker.

As I watched the playing of Warcraft without using hands, the immensity of this development struck me. This year has marked the emergence of spectacular human computer interfaces that don’t need peripheral devices, Microsoft showed off Project Natal earlier this year and now we see this particular example. In both cases, the interface has moved from devices that are held in your hand to devices that can track specific human activities. In the future we can be pretty sure that such interfaces will abound.

This technology was designed for and will substantially improve disabled access to computer mediated interactions. I wonder if it will affect the way interaction designers think about human computer interfaces and the dominance of the keyboard and mouse. Interaction designers have long considered keyboards and mice as the ONLY input devices for computers; with that changing, will designers challenge conventional graphic user interfaces driven by those input devices? Will there be a new wave of ‘more human’ interfaces?

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