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The Institute for Neuro- and Bioinformatics is part of an Network of Excellence in which an number of researchers, enterprises and user organizations join forces to help disabled people in communicating by eye gaze.

Every year more than 100 000 people are diagnosed with motor neurone diseases. Typically, even when all other ways of communicating are either severely damaged or completely lost, the eyes still function. Communication by Gaze Interaction (COGAIN) is a network of excellence to help disabled people communicate more effectively.

Current eye tracker equipment allows users to enter text by using their gaze. The users are able to select letters and numbers with their eyes to construct words and sentences that can be spoken aloud by the system. The users are empowered, as they can take up initiative in communication instead of waiting for the assistant to act first.

Eye tracking systems that allow entering text by gaze have been developed for about two decades, but the technology is still available only to a small portion of the potential user population. Obstacles for more wide-spread use currently include: the cost of eye tracking equipment is too high for the users, gaze communication applications only work with a particular eye tracking device, and devices are often hard to use and require experts to operate them.

The COGAIN consortium (members of which are listed below) consists of cutting-edge research groups and companies who have joined forces for a common goal: empowering the disabled. There are over 100 researchers in the Network of Excellence. The project aims at making research results and commercial solutions known and available, at an affordable cost, to the user community. The five-year project has received 2,9 million euros from the European Union and it was launched in a kick-off meeting in September in Finland.

The coordinator of COGAIN, Kari-Jouko Räihä, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Tampere, said: "We are excited with this Network of Excellence which we believe can lead to real advances in eye tracking technology and applications. We hope this project will also lead to us to mainstream applications which would benefit all. COGAIN believes that assistive technologies serve best by providing applications that are both empowering and fun to use."


The following twenty organisations from Europe and Japan are involved in the COGAIN project:

University of Tampere (coordinator)
Denmark   Bisbebjerg University Hospital
Danish Centre
IT University of Copenhagen
Risø National Laboratory
Technical University of Denmark
Germany   Dresden University of Technology
University of Koblenz-Landau
University of Lübeck
Italy   Hewlett-Packard Italiana
Politecnico di Torino
Japan   Tokyo Institute of Technology
Lithuania   Siauliai University
Sweden   Permobil AB
Tobii Technology AB
Switzerland   University of Zurich
  ACE Centre
De Montfort University
University of Cambridge
University of Derby


For more information please contact

Universität zu Lübeck
Institut für Neuro- und Bioinformatik
Ratzeburger Allee 160
D-23562 Lübeck

Tel.: +49 451 500-5500
Fax: +49 451 500-5502


COGAIN Network Coordination Office
e-mail:, web:


Press Releases

  • Uni forscht über Kommunikation für Behinderte. HL-live 29.11.2004. (in German) [HTML]