For many people, Minecraft is a game. Indeed, the second most popular videogame of all time is first and foremost an entertainment tool. However, I have often written that Microsoft sees Minecraft as more than a game. A gold mine for one, but also a platform that can be used for learning and accessibility.
A UK-based charity is highlighting again how Minecraft can be used outside the realm of pure gaming. SpecialEffect has created a technology that aids the physically impaired and lets them play Minecraft.
Called EyeMine, the eye-tracking software works with Windows desktops and laptops to let disabled users play the game. SpecialEffect is a company specializing in customizing games so they can be used by those with physical disabilities.
The EyeMine technology uses eye tracking software and hardware to control a mouse. The free software allows those with physical impairments to use their eyes to perform tasks. For example, placing blocks when building or selecting items in the inventory.
Additionally, the tracking software is accurate enough to move the Minecraft character around the map. This includes, attacking, flying, digging, and more. SpecialEffect explains how the new technology works on its official launch page:
“Eye-trackers have inbuilt infrared cameras which track where your eyes are looking, letting you move the mouse pointer around on the screen. You can ‘click' by dwelling (staring at a screen button for a certain length of time) or by using a switch that's plugged in to the computer. You can see dwelling in action in the lower screenshot – it's the red circular timer.”
The team behind the solution worked directly with physically impaired people to ensure accuracy. EyeMine has already been made to craft stunning creations, including a replica of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland.
Interestingly, the requirements for using EyeMine are relatively lights. For example, you will need at least a Windows 7 PC, a Minecraft account, and an eye-tracking device. While the latter many seem more problematic, SpecialEffect has listed which eye-trackers are compatible with its technology.