A new digital instrument is empowering disabled musicians and students to create music with their eyes.
The assistive technology is called the EyeHarp, and it pairs with eye and head trackers so that players can control melodies—including chords, arpeggios and pitch—with only the smallest of movements. This feature makes EyeHarp uniquely accessible to players with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities, in therapy, teaching and performance settings.
The technology is also adaptable to each user's skill level and can change between the tones of more than 20 instruments, including piano, flute, trumpet and bass guitar. Watch it at work below, played by 11-year-old Joel Bueno.
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According to founder Zacharias Vamvakousis, the idea for the EyeHarp was inspired by one of his musician friends, who lost the use of his limbs after a motorcycle accident. Vamvakousis realized there was no instrument that quadriplegic people could play and set to work developing a solution.
Of EyeHarp, one mother wrote: "[My son] likes to learn music with the EyeHarp from the comfort of his bed, calm, focused and enjoying himself. The whole family participates in this magical moment: his brother hums, his grandmother and I cheer, his father and grandfather each listen from their place in the house. Music unites us."
Check out Vamvakousis' EyeHarp cover of "Yesterday" by The Beatles here: