Eye-tracking technology for ALS patients

May 30, 2018, 9:15 PM | Updated: 9:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Any parent knows it takes savvy to keep track of kids’ busy schedules and homework.

“She doesn’t necessarily check on mine because I have a pretty good track record,” said Caroline Hill, age 13. “It’s definitely been good for her to check on my brother’s grades.”

Joey Hill, age 11, said, “She sets little alarms so I know, like, ‘soccer practice in 30 minutes.’”

What if we told you their mom can’t walk, eat, or even breathe on her own.

“As your disease progresses, your world gets a little smaller,” said Whitney Hill, a mother of four. “But I like to stay involved.”

Whitney has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Technology is helping her stay independent and productive.

Dr. Summer Gibson, a neurologist at University Hospital, said, “ALS is a lot about losses, and losses one at a time.”

She said technology helps patients maintain strong ties with family and friends through social media.

“You can see those pictures. You can see people growing and all those amazing things, and still be a mom, too,” said Dr. Gibson.

Austin Edenfield is with Team Gleason, a non-profit founded by former NFL football player, Steve Gleason, who has ALS.

“Until there is a medicinal cure for ALS, technology is going to be that cure,” he said. “There are ways to control a mouse with your foot, there’s head tracks, which is using a mouse with your head.”

He said technology is replacing many of the functions the disease has taken away.

“Even if someone can only move their pinkie finger, it’s still possible for them to drive a wheelchair,” he said.

Through eye tracking technology, Whitney has access to shopping, school calendars and teachers.

“There’s a bar at the bottom of her computer screen that focuses on her eyes, and follows her eyes exactly,” said David Hill, Whitney’s Husband.

Infrared lights reflect off Whitney’s eyes, and cameras take up to 50 pictures per second. When she pauses on something of interest, it opens or plays it for her.

“I listen to music, read articles,” she said.

David said, “It’s allowed her to contribute as much as she wants and needs to as a mom, and as a wife and as a partner, it’s been great.”

Whitney said through technology, she’s showing their kids that life didn’t end with the diagnosis. In fact, it’s still rich, and as wonderfully chaotic as ever.

Edenfield said Team Gleason is working with Microsoft to give ALS patients control of a wheelchair by only using their eyes.

KSL 5 TV Live


Fewer than two in five people in the US have gotten the flu vaccine this season, according to CDC e...

Eliza Pace

New study shows alternating arm for vaccine doses may improve immunity

With two-dose vaccinations, getting one shot in each arm may improve immunity up to four-fold, a new study shows. 

17 hours ago

A new program started by Intermountain Health will allow any police K-9 injured in the line of duty...

Alex Cabrero

New Life Flight program will fly police dogs injured in the line of duty

A new program by Intermountain Health will allow for any police K-9 injured in the line of duty to be flown by Life Flight to receive medical treatment.

1 day ago

Exercise particularly reduced risk of death for women, according to the data. (Stock photo, Getty I...

Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Women see more benefits to their health with exercise than men, study suggests

The benefits of exercise are great for everyone – but may be even better for women, according to a new study.

3 days ago

The American Red Cross of Utah is encouraging families to take the time they have off during Presid...

Karah Brackin

American Red Cross of Utah encourages families to donate during Presidents Day school break

Blood donations are needed every day of the year, but with school being out during the President's Day break, The Red Cross is taking the opportunity to educate.

3 days ago

Always having a sip of water by your side can be great for remembering to stay hydrated, but someti...

Taylor Nicioli

Is your ’emotional support water bottle’ causing overhydration?

Whether it be the latest prized Stanley cup or that 10-year-old plastic spout bottle you don’t go anywhere without, “emotional support water bottles” seem to be stuck to our sides and not going anywhere.

3 days ago

Former President Jimmy Carter’s spirit is “as strong as ever” one year into hospice care, his...

Aileen Graef, CNN

Jimmy Carter’s spirit ‘as strong as ever’ after year in hospice, grandson says

Former President Jimmy Carter’s spirit is “as strong as ever” one year into hospice care, his grandson said.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Eye-tracking technology for ALS patients