Nous: wearable eye blink switch

$1995

nous™ is a switch access method that simply uses your blinks to access a computer

Categories: ,

Think “blink to click”

nous™ is both hardware and software. The hardware component is a soft headset that houses the sensors which measure your blinks.

These sensors measure the electrical signals of eye movement, called “electrooculography” or EOG (this signal is independent of your eyebrow or forehead movements, and is only produced by the movement of your eyeballs). With nous™, the headset measures the EOG signals produced when a person blinks.

Everyone’s blinks are different. In fact, on any given time or day, even your own blinks will vary.

The software part of nous™ needs to understand what a person’s “blink signal” looks like before they start using it as a switch access method.

This ensures that they get the most accurate experience when using blinks to control software applications.

nous™ might be a useful switch access method for you, if existing assistive technologies are too difficult to use. They may be difficult to use because you may not have the physical means of accessing them, or they may be tiring to use.

Because nous™ only requires you to have the ability to blink reliably, it could be the perfect solution for you.


nous™ Headset

My headset causes me pain, what should I do?

  • Your headset might be in a slightly uncomfortable position. Try repositioning the device on your head to see if is any more comfortable.
  • If you’re still experiencing pain, please contact us with the specific details of the pain you’re experiencing. It may mean that we need to replace your device with one that is better suited to your needs.

On average, how long can people use a headset before it gets uncomfortable?

  • From our experience, people can usually wear a device for 1-2 hours before experiencing any discomfort. Not everyone finds the headsets uncomfortable, but if you do, we would recommend a 15 minute break to alleviate the discomfort before using the headset again.

My headset leaves a mark on my forehead, is this dangerous? Will it go away? Will it cause any permanent damage?

  • The mark left on your forehead is temporary, and not dangerous at all. It usually takes anywhere between 10-60 minutes for it to disappear completely.

My headset keeps moving, what should I do?

  • If your headset keeps moving, try shifting it up higher on the forehead by 0.5cms. It could be sitting too close to your eyebrows and therefore causing it to move.
  • Your headset could be a bit too big for you, try adding some padding to the back of the band so it fits more snug with your forehead.
  • Sometimes new headsets can be too tight, and also slip up the head. Try wearing the headband throughout the day, even when you’re not using it to access your computer. This will help shape it to the size of your head.

How do I pair my headset with the computer?

  • First, turn on your device by clicking the blue button on surface of the module.
  • You should hear two beeps and see a flashing red light, then blue light. This means the device is turned on but not connected to your computer or mobile device. On first usage, ensure that the brain link is fully charged.
  • If you ever hear four beeps in a row, that means your headset is low in battery and needs to be charged. It usually takes 90minutes to fully charge the device. Once the red light on the device disappears, then your device is ready to go.
  • Once it is on, it is automatically in bluetooth pairing mode.
  • Open up the bluetooth settings on your computer, make sure that your bluetooth is switched on and discoverable.
  • Click on “add device” and wait for brain link to pop-up in the window, as one of the options. When you see it, select “pair now”

How do I know that my headset is paired with my computer?

  • Once the device has successfully paired with your computer or mobile device, then the light on your brain link should change to blue.

What do I do if I’m having trouble pairing the headset with my computer?

  • Turn the headset off and on again, and see if “Brainlink” pops in your bluetooth devices
  • Try turning your computer’s bluetooth off and on again, and see if “Brainlink” pops in your bluetooth devices
  • You may need to restart your computer, then try to pair the headset to your computer through the bluetooth settings.

What does it mean when my headset beeps 2 times in a row?

  • If your headset beeps two times in a row, it is telling you that it has good connection with your head, and can accurately detect your eye-blinks.

What does it mean when my headset beeps 4 times in a row?

  • If your headset beeps four times in a row, that means it has run out of battery. You will need to charge it using the USB cable. It usually takes 90minutes to become fully charged.

How long does the battery last?

  • About 4-6 hours.

Do the sensors wear out?

  • Like with most wearable technology, wear and tear can occur. The biosensors on your headset will deteriorate in quality, but this will happen very gradually over the space of a couple of years.

How do I maintain the quality of the sensors?

  • Try your best to wipe down the sensors with a wet-wipe after every use.

What is the bluetooth range with my headset?

  • 15 metres

How do I return a faulty headset?

  • Before you send your headset back, please contact us to ensure that we cannot fix or talk you through the issues remotely. Once we’ve spoken to you we can organise a replacement for the headset

nous™ software

How do I install nous™ software?

  • you will request a trial version of nous™ by following this link
  • nous™ only requires you to register through your email address, rather than a licence key
  • Make sure that you have received your headset before using the nous™ software, as it cannot be used without it.

How do I know if my headset is connected to nous™?

  • nous™ will tell you if it is connected to your headset. When you launch the nous™ software, the first thing it will do is look to connect to your headset. Once it has connected and it has good signal with your head, you will see this screen

 

What do I do if my headset shows that it’s connected to nous™, but is not responding?

  • Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but if it does, try turning your headset off and on again, and click the “try connect” button.
  • The sensors may not be able to pick up on a clear signal from your head, try wiping the sensors and the skin on your forehead with a wet-wipe to improve the connection.
  • If neither of these options work, then you will need to turn off the headset, close out of nous™. Then turn on the headset and launch nous™ once again.

What do I do if nous™ freezes/is unresponsive?

  • Try force closing nous™ through the Windows Task Manager.
  • Try restarting your computer and relaunching nous™.

How do I change the position of the menu tab?

  • Changing the position of the menu tab is easy, and may be useful if it is overlapping an important part of your screen. Simply click on the tab to open the nous™ menu. At the bottom of the menu you will see these images , click on the option which shifts the menu tab to your preferred position, then click on the actual menu tab to make the change.

 

Do I need to install 3rd party software before installing nous™?

  • Yes, you will need to install one of the approved 3rd party software applications before installing and setting up nous™, otherwise nous™ will not have anything to control or interact with.

Can I use other switch access methods simultaneously with nous™?

  • Yes, you just need to assign the action of the other switch access methods within your AAC software settings.

How do I change the sounds in nous™?

  • there is currently no option to do this

How do I know what AAC software is compatible with nous™?

  • nous™ is currently compatible with Grid 3, Communicator 5, NuVoice, Compass, Clicker 6, and the Windows OS on-screen keyboard
  • If you would like us to integrate with other software applications, please email us at nous@thought-wired.com, we would love to learn about what other applications would be useful to you. Please note, nous™ currently only works on Windows OS.

How do I uninstall nous™?

  • Uninstalling nous™ is identical to uninstalling other windows software applications on your device.

How much space do I need on my computer?

  • You will need about 200MB for nous™ to run effectively and efficiently.

What happens with my data?

  • nous™ records several types of data in the background while you use it to help us provide you with the best possible experience.
  • This data may include signal data from the headset you use, errors and warning presented to you during use and general in-application activity information.
  • We may use this data to resolve issues should you experience any and to generally create new or improve existing functionality in our products

Where will my data be stored?

  • Your data will be stored on your device and also securely stored on our cloud servers. Unless you give us permission, no one will have access to the data stored on your device or in the cloud.

For further information on our privacy policies click here.

What actions can my blinks perform?

  • The actions that your blinks perform are controlled in the settings of the 3rd party software, under the switch-scanning settings.

How can I change the scanning interval?

  • The scanning interval is controlled in the settings of the 3rd party software, under the switch-scanning settings.

What happens if I keep making incorrect selections?

  • If you keep making incorrect selections, it might mean that the calibration setting is not quite right. To recalibration, open up the nous™ menu by clicking on the menu tab. Then click on calibration, re-calibration. You will run through the same procedure you went through when you first launched nous™.

What happens if I can’t make any selections?

  • If can’t make any selections, it might mean that the calibration setting is not quite right. To recalibrate, open up the nous™ menu by clicking on the menu tab. Then click on calibration, re-calibration. You will run through the same procedure you went through when you first launched nous™.

How do I switch between the blink select auto-scanner and blink-switch dwell to select?

  • The actions that your blinks perform are controlled in the settings of the 3rd party software, under the switch-scanning settings.

Calibration

Why do I need to calibrate?

  • Everyone’s blinks are different. In fact, on any given time or day, even your own blinks will vary. We need to understand what your “blink signal” looks like before you start using nous™. This will ensure that you get the most accurate experience when using blinks to control the software.

What is a natural blink?

  • A natural blink is the type of blink you do involuntarily on an everyday basis. It’s soft, and you’re often not aware that you’re doing it unless your attention is drawn to it.

What is an intentional or purposeful blink?

  • An intentional or purposeful blink is done voluntarily and is faster and harder than a natural blink, but not so hard that your forehead moves or that you need to frown.

What is the difference between a natural and an intentional/purposeful blink?

  • We use intentional/purposeful blinks as a method of computer control. To do this we need to understand what your natural blink level is and what your intentional/purposeful blink level is. This enables us to only use intentional/purposeful blinks to interact with your device, and ignore your natural blinks. This way, you can still blink comfortably.

What is the bio-signal nous™ uses?

  • Electrooculography or EOG is a technique for measuring the corner-retinal standing potential that exists between the front and the back of the eye.
  • Measurement of eye movements is done by placing sensors either above or below the eye or to the left and the right of the eye.
  • With your current device, we’re measuring the EOG signal produced when you blink. That’s why the sensor is placed on your forehead. If you blink then the signal is much stronger than just winking, so make sure that when you’re using nous™, to blink using both of your eyes.

Can this version of nous use my forehead movements and eyebrow movements as access methods?

  • Although this is possible, we purposely ignore the signals produced from muscle movement (electromyography or EMG) i.e. forehead and eyebrow movement. This is because our customers may unintentionally move these muscles. If we allowed nous™ to detect these signals it may make it unreliable and difficult to use.

Why do we collect data on people’s blinking?

  • The more information we collect based on your blinking, the better we can understand what the signal looks like for your intentional blinks. This means that our system will be much more reliable for you.

What happens if my blinks aren’t calibrated properly?

  • Sometimes the calibration process can estimate a blink threshold that is too low, which could cause your natural blinks to be confused with intentional blinks. This will cause what we call “false positives”, or incorrect selections that were unintentional
  • Sometimes the calibration process can estimate a blink threshold that is too high, which means that your intentional blinks that you wish to use to select options on the computer are not detected. This will cause was we call “false negatives”, where you issue an intentional blink but due to the signal being smaller than the threshold, nous™ cannot detect it as a control to select options on the computer screen.

How do I recalibrate?

  • In the nous™ menu you can see a button for calibration. When you click on this button, you will be given the option to go through the calibration process again. This process will then recalibrate your blink threshold.

Can nous™ re-calibrate automatically?

  • This is a work in process, and one of the reasons why it’s important for us to collect as much data as possible. We anticipate that an automatic re-calibration process will be made available in the next couple of years. Watch this space!

Software integration

What are different AAC software that we integrate with?

  • nous™ integrates with existing AAC software. Currently, we integrate with the most widely used windows-based AAC software:
    • Smartbox, Grid 3
    • Tobii Dynavox, Communicator 5
    • PRC, NuVoice
  • nous also works out of the box, with the Windows on-screen keyboard.

What if I want to use nous™ to interface with other software?

  • We have a “custom keystroke” option that enables you to use nous with any keyboard activated game or application, such as switch training games featured in HelpKidzLearn and the Judy Lynn website, or Clicker6.

    To use this option, you will need to know which keystroke is used by the application to connect to switch interfaces. Information on keystrokes should be provided in the support documents that come with their software or on their website.

    Once the keystroke is known, you can select the “custom keystroke” option out of the options in the “select software” window. This should open a window that will ask you to press the key you wish nous to connect with, to access your application.

  • We’re still learning about other useful software applications that our customers may want to use with nous™. If there are any other windows-based software applications that you would like to connect with, please let us know by emailing nous@thought-wired.com.

What happens with software integration during a trial?

  • Usually your therapist(s) would have had a think about which software they would like you to try with nous™. Some of these applications are freely available, while others also have 30-60 day trials. This means that your free trial with nous™ will last for the duration of the trial of these other applications.

What happens if nous™ cannot connect to my AAC?

  • Make sure your AAC has been installed correctly
  • The software you’re wanting to connect to may not be supported by nous™. Please check our list of supported third party software

What happens if nous™ cannot find my AAC?

  • Make sure that your preferred AAC is installed
  • Make sure that your preferred AAC is one that can be used with nous™ 3rd party integration

When my communication app opens, nous ™ disappears. What do I do?

  • This is because the nous ™ menu transforms into a small tab on the left hand side of your screen (see image below) when you launch your communication app. We have designed this so that nous™ is not obtrusive to your ability to navigate your communication app, and you can communicate and use the the communication app functions without any obstructions or distractions.
  • If you click on the nous™ tab, it will open up the menu, and you will see the options shown in the image below.

Processor: 1.33GHz Quad core or faster
Memory: 2GB RAM
Hard disk: 2MB+ HDD Space
Operating system: Windows 7, 8 or 10
Bluetooth (to use your blink detection headband)
Internet connectivity (at least to activate your copy of nous™)

Using nous™ to access Windows OS Software

Once the calibration is complete, nous™ can be used as a switch access method for Windows OS based computer applications, such as

  • Communicator 5 by Tobii Dynavox
  • NuVoice by PRC
  • Clicker 7 by Crick Software
  • Grid 3 by Smartbox
  • Customise nous™ to access other applications that can be used with switch interfaces.

nous™ side menu and menu tab

Once you’ve finished setting up nous™, and launched the software you wish to use, it will open and the nous™ side-menu. This is designed to hide away when you click on the tab, so you can use most of the computer screen to see the apps you wish to control with nous™.