The Impact of Gaze Controlled Technology on Quality of Life

The Impact of Gaze Controlled Technology on Quality of Life

Valentina Pasian (ALS Centre, Hospital San Giovani Battista, Italy), Fulvio Corno (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Isabella Signorile (Politecnico di Torino, Italy) and Laura Farinetti (Politecnico di Torino, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-098-9.ch006
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This chapter presents the process of introducing an eye tracking device to impaired users. It reports results from a gaze control user trial conducted with people for whom gaze control is a necessity due to their current condition or for whom it will soon become a necessity because of a progressive disease. Special attention is paid to the impact of this new communication method on their quality of life.
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First Phase

The hospital San Giovanni Battista ‘Le Molinette’ in Turin, Italy, hosts the largest specialized ALS center in Italy. The ALS Center comprises a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, speech and language therapists and psychologists. They support approximately three hundred patients with varying stages of ALS. The first phase of the trial took place over a span of 2 years on a significant proportion of Italian ALS patients.

The objective of the trials was to evaluate if and when eye tracking technologies had a positive impact on ALS patients' lives. The emphasis was on the overall quality of life (actual and perceived) and, for this reason; we adopted well-recognized Quality of Life assessment scales (described below) in our study. To have a realistic representation of user satisfaction, we decided to run the trials with off-the-shelf eye-tracking devices and software, so that our results would be repeatable in other environments.

ALS patients have severe mobility impairments, being often confined to bed and dependent on several medical devices. To ease their participation in the trials, as well as to remove a potentially dangerous stress factor, all of the trials were based within each patient's domestic home environment.

Each patient was given the opportunity to use an eye tracking system for several consecutive days (1 or 2 weeks) in order to get accustomed to it and to compensate for the somewhat difficult impact of the first setup. He/she could use the eye tracker in his/her own domestic environment, choosing when to use the system and for which activities.

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