Perhaps one of the scariest things that can happen to a person is to succumb to ‘Locked-in’ syndrome in which the body is paralyzed but the mind is unharmed. Until recently, those suffering were often assumed to be dead or severely brain damaged and treated accordingly, all the while still awake. Tony Nicklinson in the UK is one such patient, having suffered a stroke that left all but his eyes unable to move.
However Nicklinson has broken out of his corporal prison using modern eye-tracking technology. A camera follows where he looks on a board of letters and specialized software translates his eye movements into words. Using this technique, Nicklinson sent out his first tweet last week that has since developed into a Q&A with Twitter users, earning him over 31,000 followers.
The conversation on his twitter feed revolves around his push for assisted suicide. Summing up his life as ”uncomfortable, degrading, unpleasant, boring, solitary,” he is going to court asking to have his life lawfully ended. Without this new use of eye-tracking, Nicklinson would have never had a voice to express his desires about his own life. It is a remarkable use of technology previously reserved for marketing and advertising, and promises to help hundreds of thousands of paralyzed people worldwide.
Photo via Channel 4 News