By Victoria Sandmeyer, School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Fifteen competing senior design teams from EECS displayed their posters in the halls of the department on April 24th. The judging was administered by five industry representatives specializing in areas such as: microelectronics, power systems, electrical engineering and software development. The winning team, Team Gleason, was chosen based on their poster, their project as a whole, and their presentation.
Team Gleason was inspired by former WSU football star, Steve Gleason who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a terminal disease that attacks motor neurons, causing the loss of muscle function. This makes communication very difficult, especially in the late stages of the disease. Because patients are able to control their eyes and eyelids up until the end, this becomes their only potential means of communication. Eye-tracking software has been develpoed to help patients communicate; unfortunately, it is very expensive. The goal of Team Gleason, a non-profit organization, is to raise awareness about ALS, while at the same time providing a more affordable means of communication for those suffering from it.
Team Gleason has been developing a reliable predictive-typing software program which runs on a generic Android or Windows-8 tablet; and uses two hardware platforms for eye tracking: The Eye Tribe and The Pupil. Steve Gleason’s mother, Gail Gleason(pictured below at the Open House) is very supportive of the Team Gleason project and has attended most of their weekly meetings. “He (Steve Gleason) liked our software way better than his expensive system in some key ways, including predictive typing,” says team mentor, David Bakken.