Since 2014, Microsoft has set aside one week a year for employees to step away from their daily jobs and let their creativity and ingenuity reign. During the global One Week Hackathon, employees are challenged to tackle problems, create change, come up with new ideas, and generally make a difference in the world around them. The 2017 Hackathon, which was held the last week of July, had select nonprofit organizations working right alongside Microsoft employees for the first time to take on some of the biggest of the world’s challenges.
Despite having only just wrapped up its fourth year, the One Week Hackathon has already seen 23 of its projects become available for customer download through Microsoft Garage, a resource that encourages problem solving, innovation, and empowerment. Many ideas have also made their way into Microsoft’s own products and apps — including an eye tracking support technology inspired by 2014’s winning hack that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has just announced will be built in to Windows 10.
Eye Control will require a compatible eye tracker to fully unlock the Windows user experience, but Microsoft is hoping to empower those with disabilities by bridging the gap between them and widely used technology. Including Eye Control in Windows 10 will enable users to operate an onscreen mouse, keyboard (complete with a “shape-writing” capability that is similar to swipe keyboards on touchscreens), and even a text-to-speech experience with just the movements of their eyes. Eye Control is currently in beta testing, however anyone interested in testing and providing feedback on the product is invited to sign up as a Windows Insider.