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Today, we’re talking eye tracking and VersaEye™ with Shawn Malcomson, M.S., ED., ATP. Shawn’s focus is making life and communication more accessible through assistive technology. He assists individuals and their teams with guidance for access methods like eye tracking or switch scanning and helps them find the best mounting solution. Shawn recently spent time with Nick (photographed in the blog banner above) who participated in a trial experience with VersaEye. Let’s start there with our first question.

Shawn, what did you observe with VersaEye during the trial with Nick? 

VersaEye worked well outside. That’s the cutting-edge feature of VersaEye. We were in full bright sunlight, and it didn’t fail. It didn’t stop tracking his eyes. Accuracy was maintained for Nick to activate buttons on a 60-button layout keyboard. Nick was happy with VersaEye’s performance, and he enjoyed being able to take photos with an iPad®.

What are you most excited about with VersaEye on iPad? 

For me, VersaEye gives access to a platform that’s very familiar to a lot of people. iOS is ubiquitous in homes and schools, and it’s consistent across products. iOS on an iPad is consistent across all other iOS offerings, adding to ease of use.

VersaEye also gives access to apps that most people are using. Apps and iOS are integrated well. With apps, you aren’t using a web-based browser version, but a true streamlined platform. Being able to have that with eye tracking allows for a simplified user-experience. Apple® has done a great job with their built-in accessibility. The entire operating system is accessible to the user.

How will VersaEye help someone access their world? 

Through face-to-face communication and building relationships with the people around you. That can be through communication apps or shared experiences through apps for gaming, music, photography, or any other interest. There's an app that will bring people together.

First thing that comes to mind for VersaEye being used… 

  • At home?Apple Home Kit or Alexa
  • At work?Chatting with colleagues
  • At school?Participating in classwork or accessing curriculum
  • At play?Putting on the playlist and being the DJ of the party

How have you seen eye tracking change in the last 10 years? 

Eye tracking is relatively new in assistive technology. It’s now becoming more portable and more affordable. The ability of eye tracking to be used in different platforms is one of the biggest things with VersaEye being available for iOS. Previously only available in Windows, this expands customer experience. Eye tracking for iOS is less than five years old and the technology has improved substantially for the iOS platform since its initial release. It’s great that it’s built into the system through Apple’s AssistiveTouch.

What’s your favorite feature in Apple’s AssistiveTouch? 

My favorite is hot corners because it gives quick access to the most used functions, or functions most relevant to the task. It can be a single function such as opening the app switcher or a shortcut that you’ve customized so that you can control something in your home. Shortcuts let you run a sequence of tasks more efficiently.

What’s a getting-started point you’d like to emphasize to new users? 

Start simple. It’s easy to get into apps or functions that require a lot of operating-system knowledge and accuracy with the eye tracker, but when you’re first getting started, start with simple tasks like point and click. Then add other AssistiveTouch features.

Though VersaEye isn’t only for AAC, you might refer to the ALP for the AAC to think about skills to practice, or a way to assess the appropriateness of an app. Consider if your communicator is new to eye tracking access, or new to VersEye with the Hiru™ eye tracker, or even new to the iPad.

The VersaEye troubleshooting guide is also a good resource for self-service as you’re getting started. It’s a mix of technical assistance with clinical tidbits. It can help you navigate positioning improvements, accuracy with selection through calibration, and assistance with cursor stability through smoothing features.

What mount setup do you think will be most effective for VersaEye? 

Mounts are situational. VersaEye’s attached stand has continuous adjustment for tabletop mounting depending on the user’s positioning. That stand may be helpful for transferring locations or for evaluator testing.

Stability matters with VersaEye. You still want the HD wheelchair mount for vibration dampening which is really important with eye tracking. If the camera on the eye tracker is bouncing, it will struggle to consistently track your pupils. Removing the bounce is key.

Who do you think will enjoy VersaEye the most? 

VersaEye is for anyone who wants access to their iOS platform and ecosystem. For use with common apps, home controls and automation, educational apps, and making sure that their chat bubble is always blue :)

It’s also great for school systems and evaluation centers who are looking for a way to assess viability of eye tracking as an access method. Or for use as a stop gap. Organizations who buy assistive technology for end users will also like what VersaEye offers.

Still wondering if VersaEye is right for you? Keep reading.

Versa  -    eye tracking for ipad