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The Eyewriter

ALS locked Tony 'TEMPT' Quan within his body, entirely paralyzed but with his mind completely intact, confined to his bed and only able to move his eyes. This is the story of TEMPT ONE, The Eyewriter, and the birth of the Not Impossible movement.

Run time: 3:00

Mick Ebeling’s life was changed when he met a genre-defining graffiti artist whose ability to communicate and create art was stolen from him by ALS.

Tony ‘TEMPT' Quan is a legendary LA graffiti artist who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003. Not Impossible Labs organized a crew of hackers and artists to invent the world’s first low-cost eye-tracking device. It cut the cost from $15,000 to an accessible $100 and unlocked Tempt’s ability to create art.

The Absurdity

For years, Tony communicated solely via a piece of paper. His family or caretaker would run a finger along the page and TEMPT would blink, slowly, painstakingly, spelling out ideas. Even with a device that allowed him to write words, he had no outlet for his artistry.

The Goal

To create an affordable alternative to eye-tracking speech devices that allows TEMPT to draw again.

The Solution

Weekend-Long Hackathon

NIL brought together makers and engineers from around the globe to create an affordable device that tracks eye movements so that a person can draw or write. Over a weekend-long hackathon, the NIL team produced a prototype: a web-cam mounted to an LED light and connected to a pair of cheap sunglasses with zip-ties and duct tape.

Control a Computer

The Eyewriter tracks TEMPT's eye movements and blinks, which allows him to control a computer and draw.  After trying the Eyewriter — the first time he'd drawn anything since he was fully paralyzed — TEMPT emailed Not Impossible: "It feels like taking a breath after being held underwater for five minutes."