New Technology Lets People Write in Cursive Using Only Their Eyes

Posted on July 26, 2012

Cursive Writing Eyes

Scientists have created a technology that enables people to write in cursive using only their eyes. The above image shows cursive letters and numbers created by people using only their eyes. The new technology is described in a paper published online in Current Biology.

Jean Lorenceau of Universite Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris, says, "Contrary to the current belief, we show that one can gain complete, voluntary control over smooth pursuit eye movements. The discovery also provides a tool to use smooth pursuit eye movements as a pencil to draw, write, or generate a signature."

Lorenceau says that in everyday life, smooth pursuit eye movement is used to track moving targets. However, it is normally impossible to control eye movements smoothly in any direction. Lorenceau got a hint that smooth eye movements might be possible in a completely accidental way. Lorenceau was moving his own eyes in front of an unusual visual display in his lab and discovered that it produced some odd effects. For one thing, he could see his own eye movements. With a little practice, he gradually discovered that he could control his eye movements. The technology relies on changes in contrast to trick the eyes into the perception of motion. When viewing that changing visual display, people can learn to control their eye movements. The researchers say it doesn't take much practice to do this.

The technology might allow people who have almost completely lost the ability to move their arms or legs to communicate freely, by using their eyes to write in cursive. Take a look:

Photo: Lorenceau et al., Current Biology