Helmet helps dyslexics

May 3, 1996

A Swedish exchange student at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen has developed a helmet that will help research into the problem of dyslexia in children.

Johannes Linnman has won first prize in the Varta Design Challenge, an annual award for designing a battery-powered product, with a battery-operated helmet which records eye movement.

Scientists can help to differentiate between "normal" and dyslexic children by analysing electronic recordings of eye movements in response to different visual stimuli. If children are tested before they reach reading age, this improves the chances of overcoming the problem before they suffer educational disadvantages, but the equipment needed is both bulky and expensive.

Mr Linnman believes his design of a helmet that both stimulates and tracks eye movement could be a portable and cost-effective alternative.

It incorporates a built-in screen with three lights that stimulate eye movement. The eye is illuminated by beams of harmless infra-red light. Sensors located on either side of the eye then pick up the light reflected by the eye as it moves and convert this to an electrical signal.

Scientists at Freiburg University are investigating a working model of the device, and hope to build a number of prototypes.

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