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Eye Writer
Eye Writer

Eyewriter is an Eye tracking system device for measuring eye movement. Its purpose is to allow visual artists with very limited or no bodily movement to draw using their eyes. The hardware is DIY and low-cost. The software has been developed using OpenFrameworks, a cross platform c++ library for creative development.

The core development team consists of members of the Free Art and Technology Lab (F.A.T Lab),OpenFrameworks (Theo Watson, Chris Sugrue and Zachary Lieberman), the members of the Graffiti Research Lab (Evan Roth, James Powderly), and the graffiti artist Tony Quan (Tempt One).



According to its creators:

In early 2009, NY based artist and programmer Zachary Lieberman and a group formed by members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks and the Graffiti Research Lab were contacted to help develop drawing software to help Tony Quan (aka Tempt1), L.A. based graffiti artist, to draw again after 5 years of paralysis caused by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The team worked on a project based on an eye-tracking system, an existing adaptive technology device for measuring eye positions and eye movement. This system allows for the eyes to act as controllers of the system, instead of the hands.[1]


The software interprets the movement of the eye’s pupil as the cursor on the screen of a program for drawing. The cursor moves as the pupil gazes over the screen, guiding it over the buttons and commands to select tools and draw. The movements are recorded by a single camera mounted on a pair of glasses, with infrared LEDs that illuminate the eye and create a dark pupil effect. The software reads the image from the camera and interprets the pupil as a black dot positioned on a grid (page layout), which can move as a mouse cursor that’s been guided with the eye instead of with the hand.

The program allows the user to draw, manipulate and style a graffiti tag designed on the screen. It relies on a time-based interface that triggers the “click” effect when focusing the eye on a position for a few seconds, substituting the point-and-click action of a manual mouse. This interface is used to select/deselect commands and tools, and initiate/finish the traces on the grid.

The program guides the user through the process of creating a graffiti tag, guiding him or her through the steps of tracing the letters, and altering size, stroke, shadowing, coloring, and special effects. The finalized tags are saved into an FTP to be projected on a wall or other type of surface.[2]

How To

  1. For software development:
  2. For DIY hardware:
  3. For ongoing development process:
  4. Series of explanatory videos:

Conferences and Awards

The project has been presented at the BLK River Festival in Vienna, CREAM International Festival for Arts and Media in Yokohama, Japan; and the Nuart Festival in Norway. It was completely re-fabricated at the Bombay TechFest 2009.[3] It won the interactive category at the Design Museum “designs of the year” awards.[4]

Further Development

The Ewewriter is an ongoing project under development. It is being developed by the students of the Collaboration Studios[5] at the New School’s Parson School of Design, in New York City. During the Spring 2010 school term, that class is being taught by Zachary Lieberman, one of the Eyewriter’s main developers.


The project has received funding support from The Ebeling Group (TEG), the Not Impossible Foundation[6], and addition support from Parsons, The New School for Design, Communication Design & Technology.

External Links


  1. The Eye Writer
  2. Lara, Jimena. Empathy, not sympathy: DIY, custom-made assistive technology. March 9, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2010.
  3. Eye Writer's live show at IIT techfest mumbai. YouTube. January 26, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2010.
  4. Members of Free Art and Technology, Graffiti Research Lab, openFrameworks, The Ebeling Group and Tony Quan - The EyeWriter, USA February 10, 2010. Free Art and Technology (FAT) Lab. Accessed April 25, 2010
  5. Eyewriter Collab
  6. Not Impossible Foundation