For the first time, people with advanced motor disabilities of various levels, including quadriplegia, can make music. For it, all you need is a computer, an eye tracker and your gaze. A ‘technological miracle’ that has been worked with the Eyeharp project, after which it is Zacharias Vamvakousis, an entrepreneur of Greek origin living in Barcelona.
EyeHarp’s interface resembles a piano, but is shaped like a circle. Each of its parts is equivalent to a note. The eye tracker, which is a small device, monitors the gaze and detects what position on the screen the user is looking at. The computer receives that information and turns it into music. Being a digital tool, there is the possibility of recreating numerous instruments, be it a violin, a cello, a guitar, a drums …
The software of this technological tool is responsible for the fact that little Antonio can perform a small concert from his bed. Antonio receives classes directly from Vamvakousis, and ensures that he enjoys the classes that he has already received online once a week for more than a year. Through a written message shared on his screen, Antonio ensures that learning to play is not very complicated.
According to Vamvakousis, Eyeharp was born at Pompeu Fabra University. It all happened when this young entrepreneur was completing his master’s degree in music technology, and a friend of his, a musician, suffered a car accident, which led him to rethink what would happen if his friend “could not continue making music.” This was the seed of a project that passed through Barcelona Activa, the local Development Agency of the Barcelona City Council, which also recognized him with its Social Entrepreneurship Award.
Vamvakousis assures that he was at the Pompeu Fabra “doing research for eight years, masters and doctorates, investigating how technology can facilitate the learning of music in people with disabilities”, and that two years ago he thought it was time to change course. “I decided that for this technology to reach people, stakeholders, it was necessary to get out of the academic world, out of research.” Vamvakousis says that it is necessary to create a product and that it “is much more than software and technology.” A step forward to offer a true symphony of inclusion.