An investigation into gaze-based interaction techniques for people with motor impairments
thesisposted on 2017-01-30, 09:30 authored by Howell O. Istance
The use of eye movements to interact with computers offers opportunities for people with impaired motor ability to overcome the difficulties they often face using hand-held input devices. Computer games have become a major form of entertainment, and also provide opportunities for social interaction in multi-player environments. Games are also being used increasingly in education to motivate and engage young people. It is important that young people with motor impairments are able to benefit from, and enjoy, them. This thesis describes a program of research conducted over a 20-year period starting in the early 1990's that has investigated interaction techniques based on gaze position intended for use by people with motor impairments. The work investigates how to make standard software applications accessible by gaze, so that no particular modification to the application is needed. The work divides into 3 phases. In the first phase, ways of using gaze to interact with the graphical user interfaces of office applications were investigated, designed around the limitations of gaze interaction. Of these, overcoming the inherent inaccuracies of pointing by gaze at on-screen targets was particularly important. In the second phase, the focus shifted from office applications towards immersive games and on-line virtual worlds. Different means of using gaze position and patterns of eye movements, or gaze gestures, to issue commands were studied. Most of the testing and evaluation studies in this, like the first, used participants without motor-impairments. The third phase of the work then studied the applicability of the research findings thus far to groups of people with motor impairments, and in particular,the means of adapting the interaction techniques to individual abilities. In summary, the research has shown that collections of specialised gaze-based interaction techniques can be built as an effective means of completing the tasks in specific types of games and how these can be adapted to the differing abilities of individuals with motor impairments.
The work reported spans a 20-year period. Support from outside the participating universities (De Montfort, Loughborough and Tampere) has been provided by different funding agencies in UK and in Finland for some of the research outputs.