Brophy alum helping others with Eyewriter

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PHOENIX -- Giving someone back their creative freedom can open up endless possibilities. But as one Brophy College Preparatory alum found out, what started out as an idea to help just one person is now opening doors for many others.

"The device was created for one person with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and what we realized was this was a device that could pertain to anyone around the world," Mick Ebeling said.

Ebeling is talking about the Eyewriter. A device that his Not Impossible Foundation and several other groups developed for L.A.-based graffiti artist Tempt. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease back in 2003.
 
“If you can imagine having this incredible, talented friend who had essentially had his arms taken away, his art, his expression taken away and all of a sudden he's now expressing himself again," Ebeling said. "It was just amazing."

Thanks to the Eyewriter, people suffering from a neuromuscular syndrome can now draw and write by tracking their eye movement, which in turn translates it to lines on a screen.

"We created something that is free and you make it yourself," Ebeling said.

It all begins with low-cost sunglasses.

"We punched the lens out, took a piece of copper tubing, used electrical tape to run along the side of the glasses to create an arm," Ebeling said. "And on the arm we mounted an LED board, a couple of small IR lights and we mounted a PS3 webcam. The PS3 webcam was facing the pupil and basically the lens tracks your pupil, as that kind of tracking point that allows you to draw."

The Eyewriter is not only a device you can build yourself, but it can also be updated.

"When your create something that is free and you can create something that people can build themselves, there's no distribution channels," Ebeling said. "There's no postage, there's no insurance you have to worry about. There are no guidelines."

"Use it [Eyewriter], make it better," Ebeling said. "And if you figure out how to make it better, tell us, because we're going to make it better for everybody."

For Tempt, it gave him back his freedom of expression.

"It's an amazing story, but we think it can be really inspiring for a lot of people to take risks," Ebeling said.

Risks Ebeling hopes the Not Impossible Foundation can do with other projects.

"This entire thing is about inspiring people to take on things that are impossible and make them not impossible," Ebeling said.

The Eyewriter costs less than $70 to make .This includes the sunglasses and PS3 webcam. For more details, log onto http://notimpossiblefoundation.org.