For some individuals with physical disabilities, playing the piano is an impossible challenge. But a new virtual reality device out of Japan may allow some people with special needs to play the instrument using only their eyes.
Dubbed “Eye Play The Piano,” the device works by tracking eye movements to trigger the notes. The device is a collaboration between the University of Tsukuba’s Special Needs Education School for the Physically Challenged and Fove, a Japanese virtual reality headset manufacturer.
According to The Guardian, the device made its public debut in December when a child with disabilities used it to play the piano at a Christmas concert held at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. In video of the event (above), watch as the child — a student at the university’s special needs school — blinks his eyes to set off the desired notes, playing a song as other students sang along.
The product’s website describes how the product works:
The arrangement of the standard keyboard, which is designed to be played by hand has been reassembled to an interface which can be played by “sight.” A very rich and varied musical performance can be obtained through the combined application of the mono-tone mode and chord mode. The structure is built so the user can freely choose which sounds to assign in each mode, allowing the interface to play a variety of different musical compositions depending on how the sounds are chosen.
Fove recently launched a JustGiving fundraising campaign to raise about 1.5 million yen (about $12,800) to distribute the device to dozens of special needs schools in Japan.
“The idea of expression coming only from the actions of the human eyes does not only apply to playing the piano but also believe that this technology can open up new possibilities to all humans,” Fove’s chief executive, Yuka Kojima, said on the JustGiving page.