Usability and Workload of Access Technology for People with Severe Motor Impairment: A Comparison of Brain-Computer Interfacing and Eye Tracking

Emanuele Pasqualotto, Tamara Matuz, Stefano Federici, Carolin A. Ruf, Mathias Bartl, Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, Niels Birbaumer, Sebastian Halder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background. Eye trackers are widely used among people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and their benefits to quality of life have been previously shown. On the contrary, Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are still quite a novel technology, which also serves as an access technology for people with severe motor impairment. Objective. To compare a visual P300-based BCI and an eye tracker in terms of information transfer rate (ITR), usability, and cognitive workload in users with motor impairments. Methods. Each participant performed 3 spelling tasks, over 4 total sessions, using an Internet browser, which was controlled by a spelling interface that was suitable for use with either the BCI or the eye tracker. At the end of each session, participants evaluated usability and cognitive workload of the system. Results. ITR and System Usability Scale (SUS) score were higher for the eye tracker (Wilcoxon signed-rank test: ITR T = 9, P =.016; SUS T = 12.50, P =.035). Cognitive workload was higher for the BCI (T = 4; P =.003). Conclusions. Although BCIs could be potentially useful for people with severe physical disabilities, we showed that the usability of BCIs based on the visual P300 remains inferior to eye tracking. We suggest that future research on visual BCIs should use eye tracking-based control as a comparison to evaluate performance or focus on nonvisual paradigms for persons who have lost gaze control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-957
Number of pages8
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Volume29
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015

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Keywords

  • ALS
  • assistive technology
  • BCI
  • brain-computer interface
  • cognitive workload
  • eye tracking
  • usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology

Cite this

Pasqualotto, E., Matuz, T., Federici, S., Ruf, C. A., Bartl, M., Olivetti Belardinelli, M., Birbaumer, N., & Halder, S. (2015). Usability and Workload of Access Technology for People with Severe Motor Impairment: A Comparison of Brain-Computer Interfacing and Eye Tracking. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29(10), 950-957. https://doi.org/10.1177/1545968315575611