TED Talk: The Eyewriter

Not Impossible got its start with an "impossible" idea: unlock a locked-in graffiti artist. Watch Mick Ebeling's TED talk to hear how naïve commitment, cheap sunglasses and a hacked webcam allowed TEMPT, and others in his circumstance, to draw again.
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Not Impossible got its start with an "impossible" idea: unlock a locked-in graffiti artist. Watch Mick Ebeling's TED talk to hear how naïve commitment, cheap sunglasses and a hacked webcam allowed TEMPT, and others in his circumstance, to draw again.

Our friend, LA artist Tempt One, was fully paralyzed due to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He couldn’t move his body, talk, or breathe unassisted-- much less create art. Tempt had been a major player in the Los Angeles urban art scene for many years before his diagnosis and he felt trapped in a body that no longer worked.

After lots of coffee-fueled nights and consumption of copious amounts of spaghetti and pancakes, the hack team made the impossible possible: they created the Eyewriter. The cheap, open-source, DIY eye-tracking device allowed Tempt to create art again for the first time in 10 years. It also spurred an award-winning documentary film about Tempt's story called Getting Up, directed by Mick's wife, Caskey Ebeling. 

"They said if we had any f*cking idea...of the difficulty...we would never have tried to do it in the first place." 

After the Slamdance premiere of Getting Up in Park City, Mick and Caskey ran into a group of awe-struck engineers. “They said if we had any f*cking idea, any concept of the difficulty of ocular recognition and tracking, and of what it would actually take to create, we never would have never tried to do it in the first place,” says Mick Ebeling. “Our blind ambition and naivete was the only reason this was made. They said they wish they could channel this into their professional lives because they kill all these things they want to make because it’s too hard, or too expensive or not realistic.” 

Want to create your own Eyewriter? Click here to download the codes and watch an easy tutorial