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Using eye movement technology to play computer games and take part in virtual online communities is the subject of a world-first conference at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) next month.

Speakers from across Europe and North America will discuss the potential of eye-tracking technology for helping people with disabilities.

Manufacturers and developers of cutting-edge eye-tracking products and software will also be showcasing their work at the event.

Entitled 'Gaze-based Creativity, Interacting with Games and Online Communities', the event will also include a key note address by Dr Andrew Duchowski, a leading researcher in the area of eye-tracking technology who is based at Clemson University in the USA.

This is the first time a conference has been held on the subject of how eye-tracking can be used in computer games and online communities.

It is the third annual conference organised by COGAIN (COmmunication by GAze INteraction) and marks the first time that it hasbeen held at DMU. Previous events have been held in Copenhagen and Turin.

COGAIN is a network of excellence, supported by the European Commission's sixth framework programme. The network aims to develop new technologies and systems and improve existing gaze-based interaction techniques.

The conference is being held at DMU's Performance Arts Centre for Excellence (PACE) building on Monday 3 September and Tuesday 4 September.

Although the technology is driven by the need to find better ways for people with disabilities to access computer technology, it can also be used for developing new methods of gaming and computer interaction for able-bodied people.

Howell Istance, Principal Lecturer in DMU's School of Computing and member of COGAIN, is the conference chair.

He said: "Gaze interaction software can open up a whole new world of gaming for disabled and able-bodied people alike.

"It can also help profoundly disabled people to find great enjoyment from participation invirtual communities.

"Computer games have become such a large part of the entertainment culture, and making use of where the player is looking has yet to be exploited. Disabled users should be able to fully engage with this form of entertainment and gaze communications offers a means to realise this."

Among the areas that will be considered during the conference are: gaze-based interaction with virtual worlds; gaze and creativity; text entry by means of gaze; innovations in eye-tracking systems; and gaze and personal mobility control.

COGAIN has 25 active partners from universities, industry and user groups, including DMU's School of Computing.

Anyone who would like to attend the conference can register online at www.cogain.org/cogain2007 or contact Rina Patel at rina@dmu.ac.uk or by phone on 0116 207 8587.


Notesto editors

*For more information, to speak to Howell Istance or if you are member of the media interested in attending the conference, please contact De Montfort University's Press and Public Relations Office on 0116 207 8353.

*The conference takes place ahead of DMU hosting the first-ever European Machinima festival between 12 -14 October. Machinima is a fusion of film-making and computer gaming, which is increasingly being used as one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways of creating animation.

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