Eyegaze systems

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Forgive me if this has been hashed over previously, as I suspect it has. The VA speech pathologist is recommending I get an eyegaze system to get used to it before my speech and hand dexterity deteriorate more (I’m currently typing on a keyboard) and my speech is slow but understandable. She arranged for demos by a Tobii rep and a rep from “Talk to me” technologies. In the brief demo I had more success with Tobii, but she and other speech pathologists seem to have some predilection for “Talk to me” which is run by speech pathologists and seems to be chosen by more of her patients. I know whichever I choose will require lots of practice, but wondered if anyone had any insight about pros and cons. Thanks.

Ed
 

lgelb

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There has been some consensus among members (RIP) like azgirl and GregK that a Tobii interface attached to a Microsoft Surface can be a better option than the full-boat Tobii. For those interested in using a MacBook, the Eyegaze Edge is worth a look as well.

As for TTM, some of their devices are communication-only, no Internet, so be careful if that matters to you.

General note -- financial/personal relationships hold sway at the VA like anywhere else, so just because someone looks you in the eye and recommends something doesn't mean they or their org doesn't have skin in the game.

Note #2 -- mounts are not unique to any product -- don't look at mounts when deciding on a system. These are often bundled for reimbursement reasons but you can find a mount that's right for you separately, if needed.
 

KarenNWendyn

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I just got an Eyegaze Edge. I don’t have enough experience with it to comment but plan to do so in the future when I’m hopefully proficient at it. So far it seems straightforward and intuitive.

It can interface with a MacBook. But you have to buy a special dongle to do this. I was told the dongle costs $300 and is not covered by insurance.
 

Wilson2009

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The VA in KCMO provided me with a WinSlate from Forbes AAC. I believe it has the same software from Smartbox (Grid 3) that TTM uses, but it runs on a Windows Surface device that is of course fully Internet-capable. Grid 3 software uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone for phone calls (Android works best with the supplied software). The software itself can be sync'd to your phone if you need a handheld device. The WinSlate allows you to use a single device for all your needs.
 

notBrad

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I have a severe love / hate relationship with my tobii. On one hand it provides me with a life, I can have friends over to watch games and communicate with my wife, caregiver, medical professionals, etc. OTOH, the applications generally seriously suck!

The calibration drifts, the sms, phone interface, email, constant crashes, music,, etc are seriously lacking ( single email address, only one sms recipient, no ability to embed/attach files, etc) .You are off using the windows equivalent ( I can't believe I just said that) or a third party app. And so on. I am a programmer and the amateur way that updates are handled, no change logs - new features just show up. Lack of common sense operations.

You will be better off getting a eye gaze hardware and did I mention the joys of working with a 12 inch screen...
 

nona

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Totally with you about Tobii, Brad. But I use Gmail on Chrome and an SMS site called Pulse to avoid the tobii versions, which are horrible.
 

Vincent

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I've been using the eyegaze app built into windows 10 on my laptop. Team Gleason got together with microsoft to develop this app. All you need is a tobii eyetracker 4c camera ( about 150 usd) download the drivers and go to ease of access on control panel an windows eyecontrol is right there. While it isn't as sophisticated as the tobii app, it has a keyboard and text to speech. I thought it was a cheap way to practice using eyegaze before investing in the more expensive apps.
Vincent
 

GillG

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I have been using the TTMT eyegaze for a while now. It is not a dedicated speech only device. It is a Microsoft Surface , so it has all the connectivity you could need. No one is good with tracking at first . It comes with use. Previously , I was using a PRC Accent which was similar. I enjoy the TTM more. Plus, it came with more peripherals. If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to reach out.
 

KarenNWendyn

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I just spent 2+ hours with the Eyegaze Edge rep. The system is easy to calibrate, and enables the user to preload phrases. It also comes with standard phrases that can be modified/ personalized. Typing with the eyes is not difficult but takes some practice and time to master. There are training videos that come with the device. It is a Windows based device using Grid Three software which is designed for eye gaze. It updates automatically and is relatively resistant to viruses and malware.

The device has full internet capability and can interface with a smartphone. Using dongles allows one to connect to and operate a Mac using eye gaze. For me being fairly non-techy, there is going to be a very steep learning curve with the internet, phone, and Mac aspects. I think I can master the typing and speaking aspects fairly quickly. Fortunately I can still talk, and type using one finger, so I have time to practice.

For anyone whose voice and finger function are waning, my advice is to push for an eye gaze system sooner rather than later so you hopefully have time to practice.
 

JimInVA

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I am following this, too. Darcey has used the Tobii... one from 5 years ago and found it very lacking in the things she wanted to do. She uses her computer, currently, with Dragon Naturally Speaking to use Outlook for email, Facebook for social interaction (VERY important to her) and Netflix/Amazon Prime for series and movies. Her voice is fading and it won't be much longer that she can use Dragon. Last January, she was "loaned" an Eyegaze Edge via an effort of the company and our local ALS group. It is easier to calibrate than the Tobii and has a better interface than the Tobii (at least the 5-year old one we had... which we passed onto the Eyegaze folks). But, even at that, it isn't comfortable or perfect. If I could "wish", it would be for an eyegaze system that used her current screens, monitor and methods of us... but incorporated eyegaze technology. Perhaps Vincent has the answer to that.

Ending, I will say that for many, the ability to interact with the world around them... via the computer and social media... goes a long way towards keeping the mind active, engaged and [sometimes] amused. Darcey states "it is my best diversion to how uncomfortable I am and allows me to temporarily forget I have ALS". It very much IS extremely important. As her loving husband and favored caregiver, my greatest worry is how she will begin to fall into despair should she lose this ability to connect with others.

Thanks for this great topic of exploration and the feedback.

My best...

Jim
 
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