Gadgets designed by those who are aimed to make life easier and more interesting for disabled people, sometimes unveil new course for hi-tech industries. The most recent gadget that stands at origin of computing devices for disabled is a latest concept cursor manipulator. This light detector attached to one’s spectacles can act as good as a well-known computer mouse and was designed to substitute it completely. The Wink Technology which is in its core can also be, by the way, very handy to all computer users, probably even entice them all.

Jedlicka Institute for Disabled Children, Czech Republic, has become a domain for the gadget’s developers. To make a computer controllable for handicapped persons, researchers and students of this institute have placed a camera locked close to user’s eye. It is programmed to detect eye’s behavior – left, right, up and down movements, and moments when the eye is closed for calculated periods of time. This was the hardest thing to do as the involved students and other researchers say. The device can not only be eye-controlled, but can also perceive head movements. Data from the detector is sent to a control unit and generated into orders computer will understand. Overall cursor on the monitor receives all the commands and follows the way eyeball shows. Shortly closed eye is interpreted as a click, and prolonged eye closing means a double click for eye-controlled computer. Now gadget is completely useable, makes all the computer and Internet resources manageable and is compatible with any PC model. Device is synchronized via USB host.

Wink Technology is unfortunately not the cheapest one. This eye-controlled cursor manipulator will cost slightly more than 1500 Euros but it was said that government and charitable foundations are willing to cover at least a part of the price for disabled children, because it finally offers them Internet resources and computer experience, which means better education and profitable employment.

There was big fuzz in the Internet when the OLPC project started; idea of making a 100 dollar priced laptop to help children of Africa and other poor regions become closer to Internet and computer technologies was very innovative and interesting. Now it is time to announce some of its competitors. We already reviewed top 10 subnotebooks; you can read about them here, however, this one is a very different issue. It brings the low cost educational subnotebook to the UMPC side, making it even more portable. Let's look at the details.

It is currently only a concept, but it looks very promising. It is called Spark, and is maintained by Project Inkwell and Ideo designers. It can be called a UMPC rather than a laptop, all because of its very portable size - it is comparable to Sony PSP. Bright and wide color screen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, even full QWERTY keyboard and wireless mouse - all these will be parts of this device. Spark is a part of new educational project, and is made to help children younger then 12 learning. It wins in size and portability if compared to OLPC XO-1 - it can be carried in pocket easily.
Unfortunately this is only a concept for now. It is unknown, what technical parameters it will have, and how high the price will be. But if this gadget wants to be successful rival of the OLPC, it must be priced not higher than 100-150 dollars. It will most likely run on Linux or Linux-based OS to reduce cost of final device, taking in consideration its small size it may not be compatible with existing OLPC software. Time will tell how successful the ideas of Project Inkwell will be, but it is a good sign that computer manufacturers started to think about low cost educational computers.