Disability empowering technology company Psykinetic launched in Sydney today, giving a glimpse into the future of accessibility technology.
The company launched three flagship products designed to improve the lives of people with high-level physical disabilities. All three utilise eye-tracking technology for touch-free interactions.
And while eye-tracking hardware has existed for some time, the Psykinetic product demonstrated a more robust and effective way for users to interact with technology. The company is also working on integrating brain-controlled interfaces into its products.
The first flagship product demonstrated — ‘Frontier’ — is “the world’s fastest eye-controlled communication keyboard”, according to the company. Users can operate a full qwerty keyboard for text-to-speech operations at what the company says are never-before-seen speeds. The software operates on personal computers and utilises existing eye-tracking hardware.
The technology requires practice, but advanced users have recorded speeds of up to 44 words per minute. To put that in perspective, the switch-operated device used by the late Stephen Hawking operated at between three to five words per minute.
“It takes practice. But it’s one of those things that grows and adapts with you at different levels,” said Dr Jordan Nguyen, Founder and CEO of Psykinetic.
Nguyen said backend algorithms allow the software to adapt to users’ behaviour and eye movements. Even users without training were registering words per minute rates in the high twenties, according to Nguyen.
“Everyone has the capacity to contribute to society, improve the lives of others, and ultimately work towards a better world for future generations,” the Psykinetic CEO said.
“We are launching the starting points of a powerful movement that will open up a world of possibilities and empower individuals with more technological tools to help create that change.”
Riley Saban, a year nine student born with cerebral cerebral palsy, demonstrated the technology at the launch, describing it as a “game changer” for people with disabilities.
“Without the right tools I wouldn’t and couldn’t be doing the things I am today,” Saban said. “I look forward to working with the Psykinetic team to support them in developing more amazing products for people in need.”
Psykinetic also unveiled and demonstrated ‘Atmosphere’ — a music device controlled by eye tracking — and ‘Stargaze’ — the digital platform which offers and launches Psykinetic apps.
Psykinetic is a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service provider and Nguyen said he hopes the technology will be covered by the scheme.
“Like any major release [the NDIS] had its own teething problems. But I think Australia is making a massive move to show the world how it’s done. How we can work towards creating a more inclusive society, and I think the NDIS is crucial to that.”