People With Disabilities Can Play Piano Thanks to Eye-Tracking in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is often associated with immersive entertainment experiences like gaming and movies. But the Japanese VR headset manufacturer Fove is working on an entirely different vein of entertainment and expression. Collaborating with the University of Tsukuba, the company has developed a system that tracks eye movement in virtual reality to turn blinks into real-life piano playing.

As the Guardian notes, “Eye Play the Piano” is targeted at kids with disabilities, and Fove calls it the “universal piano.” It’s sort of like a player piano, but instead of controlling the piano with commands from perforated scrolls, the piano gets its inputs from the users’ blinks, and they can play whatever they want. “We … believe that this technology can open up many new possibilities to all humans,” Yuka Kojima, Fove’s chief executive, wrote.

Fove is using the crowdfunding charity site JustGiving to try to raise additional funds so it can “donate the Eye Play the Piano universal piano system … to 135 schools for the physically-disabled.” Fove demoed the setup during a holiday concert (see video above) at the University of Tsukuba’s Special Needs Education School for the Physically Challenged in December.