According to the recent paper published by biomedical engineering student Lester Lo at RMIT University, eye gaze combined with EMG switching outperformed traditional eye gaze AAC systems. The study was designed to test the speed and accuracy of an eye gaze augmentative alternative communication system using ‘dwell’ selection (extended gaze), compared to eye gaze combined with electromyography (EMG) switching for selection.
The purpose of the study was to compare the speed, accuracy, and other qualitative factors of communication using eye gaze with dwell and eye gaze with EMG switching for selection methods. The goal was to compare how the different methods performed in accuracy and speed for communication for AAC users.
The study consisted of 30 able-bodied participants with little experience using eye gaze and EMG switch technology. While the devices used in this study are suited for the disabled population, able-bodied individuals were used for the study to avoid introducing too many variables, skewing the data, and making comparison on the technical aspects of the technology inconclusive.
The devices used in the study were the Eye Gaze Duo from Control Bionics and the NeuroNode Trilogy from Control Bionics. The Eye Gaze Duo is a traditional eye gaze device that uses dwell as a selection method. The NeuroNode Trilogy also features eye gaze, but adds the option of an EMG sensor to select.
The task assigned to the participants was to type the phrases they were given as quickly as possible without making any errors. All the participants used the same 2 sets of 6 phrases. Half of the participants started using the eye gaze with dwell first and then used eye gaze with EMG switching. The other half did the reverse, starting on eye gaze with EMG switching, followed by eye gaze with dwell to ensure the results were unbiased and fair.
The session ended with a participant survey to collect qualitative data on their experiences using each system in areas such as enjoyment and fatigue.
The participants found that the eye gaze with EMG switching was less fatiguing, less stressful, and induced less mental overload than eye gaze with dwell. In addition, the participants found that they could operate the eye gaze with EMG switching system better and more naturally.