The missing link – face to face therapy meets online therapy

The missing link – face to face therapy meets online therapy

16 September 2016    Rebekkah Laeuchli – Guest Blog

Is eye contact in online therapy possible?

Online therapy offers accessible sessions that clients can attend from any location, at whatever time. This has opened the doors of the consulting room to many people who previously couldn′t or wouldn′t have made it there.

But there is one element missing to establish the same intimacy and trust of an in-person meeting. A key factor in human communication is being able to look in the eyes of a conversation partner. This is absent in online therapy, as direct gaze is impossible in video chat. You look to the side of the screen, or down, but never directly into the eyes of the other person.

This is now going to change.

New technology called CatchEye enables eye contact in video calls. This is not a video call platform or “virtual consulting room”. It′s a simple plugin that works with Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger. 

How it works

The plugin works with any webcam so you don′t need to buy any new expensive equipment. You download the file from the CatchEye website, run an installation, tweak a single setting in Skype, and you′re done. The technology accesses the image captured by your webcam and corrects this to redirect the gaze. The plugin then sends the results to Skype, and the person you are talking with sees your eyes looking directly at his. This happens whenever you look in the direction of the person′s eyes; when you look away the plugin knows not to correct the gaze direction.

Who′s behind it

CatchEye technology was first developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich by Claudia Plüss and Jan Rüegg. The two co-inventors then created a company based on their technology and CatchEye was born. At first the plugin worked only with a 3D camera, which limited access to only a few users. Now CatchEye works with any webcam and will launch publicly for general use at the end of September.

How much it costs

The CatchEye plugin is free to download and use. The only paid feature is removal of the CatchEye watermark and insertion of your own logo into the video. This feature is optional and offered on a subscription basis. All other usage of the technology is without cost.

Find out more

CatchEye plugin offers other features besides eye contact. These include auto-zoom to make sure your video calls are focused and distraction-free, and lighting and color correction to enable a pleasant environment.  

You can download it here for free