The Loh Down On Science

The Eyes Have It

A cure for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Don’t roll your eyes--actually, no, do!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When it comes to hands-free writing, perhaps the “eyes” have it.

So believes neuroscientist Jean Lorenceau.

Today, eye-tracking headgear, and the appropriate software, could technically make writing with our eyes possible. We’d roll our eyes as if tracing out letters in the air, and make cursive as we went. The problem? Although our eyes can follow a moving object smoothly, it’s almost impossible to produce smooth eye movements otherwise. The mere effort sends the eyes into bursts of jerky movements called saccades. Not good for penmanship.

So Lorenceau used an optical illusion called “reverse phi motion” to train eyes to move smoothly anytime.

Patterns of flickering dots on a computer screen fool us into thinking that not only are the dots moving, but that our eye movements are controlling the motion. But the dots aren’t really moving, we’re just learning better eye control.

Soon, you’ll be able to rest your hands and start your novel….

As to what it’s about, that no software can help you with. Not yet, anyway.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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