Cerebral Palsy Patient Uses ‘Eyeharp’ To Play Music: See How Eye Tracking Technology Made It Possible


With a flick of her eyes across a computer screen, a patient with cerebral palsy fills the air with harp music.

A Reuters report describes how Alexandra Kerlidou, 21, sits in her wheelchair on a stage in Athens. Here, the disabled student who cannot speak or use her hands is seen playing “Eyeharp”, a digital gaze control software that allows a disabled person to play music, which Kerlidou does not. had never thought possible.

Describing the experience, the 21-year-old said she felt strange and had never imagined such a thing – using a speech-generating computer program as she described trying for the first time , the Eyeharp in his Lesvos home with Zacharias Vamvakoousis, the creator of the technology.

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(Photo: 312kasia on Pixabay)
With a flick of her eyes across a computer screen, a patient with cerebral palsy fills the air with harp music.

Inspiration to develop “Eyeharp”

Computer scientist and musician Vamvakousis was inspired to develop the program after a musician friend was injured in a car accident shortly before a concert where they were playing together.

At first, the developer said that a friend of his who played Cretan Iyra said it was not clear if he would be able to move his arms and hands and play music again. He added that it shocked him, and he realized that such technology was needed.

This digital eye tracking technology, commonly used in games, medicine, and security, monitors eye movement to perform commands.

Essentially, the interface allows you to create arpeggios and control their harmony while melodies are played over them. To do this, the interface has two layers which include the melody layer and the step sequencer layer.

The eye rests on each musical note spaced on a wheel on the screen, and the average can play three to four notes per second. This report also specifies that such a program can “play” 25 musical instruments.

A similar report from CNA Insider made it clear, without doing so digitally, Vamvakousis explained, that playing music in real time would never be possible. Eyeharp, he continued, removes the real action of strumming a string.

Discipline and concentration required

The software developer said the program needs discipline and focus, as the eyes must be kept from wandering too quickly to the next grade, although the students are happy to hear their efforts.

Most children, he continued, start with the sound of the drum first “just to interact with the environment right now.”

Vamvakousis taught the program at specialist schools in Barcelona, ​​where he studied. With the technology, he added, more than 2,000 people have downloaded the program.

Due to the pandemic, he currently teaches online, primarily to children with cerebral palsy, described to the Mayo Clinic as a group of disorders affecting muscle tone and movement or posture.

Describing how they felt after seeing the 21-year-old play the harp, Kerlidou’s father, Anastasios said, cried, and the mother also cried after their daughter first played the Eyeharp, described by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra as open source software that is free to download and use.

The student, who wants to work as a computer programmer after finishing her studies, enjoys the piano, not to mention popular Greek songs. She shared that she couldn’t imagine her life without adding music; when she is sad or happy, she puts on music.

Related information about EyeHarp is featured on the EyeHarp Project YouTube video below:

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