In late July a team at Microsoft were presented with a challenge by former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason: find a way to let him drive his wheelchair by using his eyes.
Gleason suffers from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. For Gleason that muscle-wasting disease in a few short years has now robbed him of even the ability to control the joystick in his electric wheelchair.
The former athlete’s appearance was part of a company-wide “hackathon” where some 12,000 Microsoft employees were asked to delve into the company’s products and find new ways to use them and fix problems. The team that designed a new wheelchair interface won. They found a solution in just two days.
On Thursday, principal software design engineer Gershon Parent used his eyes to drive a wheelchair identical to Gleason’s. It’s called EyeGaze.