Myron Krueger Interview

Image of a member of the public interacting in Videoplace with his on-screen image.In April 2005 I interviewed Myron Kruger, a pioneer of highly accessible computer interfaces, and someone I respect greatly. I got in touch shortly after posting my Accessible Gaming Pioneers page where his work took top billing.

I wanted to ask him about his work enabling people of all abilities, and also upon his thoughts on the Playstation EyeToy which borrows very heavily from some of his work...

1. When did you first become aware of the impact your work could have upon disabled people?
"One thing I think I am good at is generalizing ideas. When I came up my ideas in 1969 and 70, I considered a hundred applications in which computer simulations could benefit from physical participation almost immediately. A variety of disability applications were included in the original outline of my dissertation in 1971, in the first draft in February 1972, and in the final text of "Computer-Controlled Responsive Environments" in 1974. These included physical therapy and the system for making graphic maps available to blind people. Pysychiatric therapy including ideas for reaching autistic children were also considered. In fact, I was offered a job in the department of psychiatry at the University of Kentucky in 1970."

2. When did you see this become a reality?

"Actually like Moses, I never got to see the promised land. Initial approaches to NIH in the 70s, got nowhere. Formal proposals in the early and mid 1980s were all rejected. The system for the blind did get SBIR Phase I funding in 1995 and 98, but no Phase 2 was ever received. Similarly, the range-of-motion proposal that I submitted with United Cerebral Palsy was not accepted. However, other people have received funding to implement some of my ideas and there are now conferences based on them."

3. How and when did you get involved with United Cerebral Palsy of Long Island?
"Pauli Pachter contacted me and we did a two day demonstration in Long Island, followed by a week long experiment with a number of subjects including Greg, Howie, Barbara, and Misha. (Say hello to them if they are still in touch with the Center. And apologize to them for me not being able to get the funding to continue working with them.)"

4. Has this work now ceased?
"For the most part it has. While I have been funded to do unrelated research, I have come to the conclusion that my odds of receiving funding to pursue my own ideas are too poor to continue sharing my ideas. There are probably 15 conferences that address topics which I identified and was first to pursue."

5. Do you think the description of your pioneering work at OneSwitch, in relationship to accessible play / video games is fair?

"The article does note my work but cuts it off in 1980 when it actually went on through the 80s and 90s. It also does not mention my books which contain a number principles which are not associated with my work. Artificial Reality (Addison-Wesley, 1983) and Artificial Reality II (Addison-Wesley, 1991). For instance, the blind interface was mentioned in the dissertation but only funded and demonstrated in the 90s.

• “KnowWhere: Virtual Reality Maps for Blind People,” CSUN Conference, Los Angeles, March, 1997.
• “KnowWare: An Audio/Spatial Interface for Blind People,” International Conference on Audio Display, Xerox Park Laboratories, November 1997
• “KnowWhere™: Experimental Results,” Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference, San Francisco, Jan 1999."

6. What do you think of Sony's Eye Toy?

"Since my technology is the subject of a patent which covers the EyeToy, I am not a great enthusiast for SONY. They acknowledge that I invented it but believe that they have more money for legal fees than I do. In that, of course, they are correct.

As for the EyeToy itself, I was shocked when I saw it. It takes genius to take a technology that has publically entertained a million people and use it as the basis for a product that can entertain no one. If they had acknowledged my patent and worked with me from the beginning, they would have had a much more successful product and not disappointed millions of customers. I base these comments on the original software which is all I have seen. If there is anything new, I have not yet seen it."

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1 Responses to 'Myron Krueger Interview'

  1. # Anonymous John Bannick


    Really interesting stuff. Also pointed me at your Gaming Pioneers, which I'd somehow overlooked.

    Gotta look at some of these resources in detail for ideas how to make our stuff more accessible.



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