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SXSW: Microsoft project helps a community to create music with the help of the eyes

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Microsoft allows IF patients to make music with the eyes

Microsoft demonstrates eye-controlled software to make music during SXSW.

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Microsoft allows IF patients to make music with the eyes

Microsoft demonstrates eye-controlled software to make music during SXSW.

“We’re a bunch of nerds, we know technology,” says Ann Paradiso during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. As one of the most important user experience manager of Microsoft’s Enabling Team, Paradiso and her team to create technological innovations to help people with disabilities.
 
At SXSW, they showed one of their latest developments: the Microsoft Hands-Free Music project.

The visitors had a chance to try Microsoft’s Hands-Free Music project during a performance at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

(Fox News)

It was developed in cooperation with the community to help them and people with other disabling conditions compose music using just their eyes.

The Hands-Free Music project offers people with a disability to make music and express themselves by using technologies controlled by eye movements.

(Fox News)

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“This cooperation gives the people what is possible with technology,” said Paradiso.
 
The recommended technologies are: Sound Fixed, Sound Machine, and Expressive Pixels.

Sound Wired described as “an eye-controlled music environment for electronic loop-based performance and composition.” It features what is known as a clip launcher, so that people “start” of musical excerpts that are automatically aligned to the following downbeat of a song.

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Sound Machine is a 16-step audio sequencer that provides users with the ability to generate musical compositions using a combination of .wav and midi samples.
 
Expressive Pixels is a visual interface can improve the communication and the performance.
 
“We believe that our partnership with the community helps to restore hope, a sense of purpose,” said Paradiso.

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Although the technologies are designed to help a number of people with AS, Paradiso and her team had a specific person in mind when they developed the software. During product development, they had connected with Jeremy Best, a musician, and AS a patient.
 
“I was playing drums my whole life and for 3 years AS a… Among the many things it has taken away from me is the ability to sing and play and compose, all the things that I dearly loved,” Best told Fox News.
 
He acknowledges that Hands-Free Music project is still in the formative stage. Still, he says that it is his hope.

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“It has restored hope that one day I could compose and play again, something I had given up. Hope is a great thing when you have a chronic disease,” said Best.
 
Hands-Free Music Project won the SXSW Interactive Music and Audio Innovation Award.
 
The software for the Sound Fixed, and the Sound of the Machine has already been released and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Hands-Free Music website. Expressive Pixels will be released in the summer.
 
All programs are and will be available to the public free of charge.
 

Madeleine Rivera is a multimedia reporter based in Houston, Texas.

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