Julius Sweetland is the creator of OptiKey, an on-screen keyboard that allows the user to communicate and use their computer with their eyes. The program is completely free and fully open source, unlike similar models that come at extremely high costs. He was introduced to this problem under unfortunate circumstances when his aunt developed motor neuron disease (MND) in 2008. Watching her ability to move and speak disintegrate, he was inspired to research the issue. Discovering that most places outside the UK had no options for help under $10,000, he became determined to find a new solution.
After five years of trial and error, Julius launched OptiKey. Thanks to the help of new volunteers and contributors, it has evolved to include 19 languages, and “remains the best thing I’ve done, and something I will look back on proudly forever.”
Julius started programming at the age of five—and would go on to graduate with a first-class degree in computer science from Bristol University. After time at GLG, Goldman Sachs, and CME Group, he is now a consultant software developer at Arrowgrass.
Julius lives in South West London with his wife and their three-year-old son, Harry. In his free time, he plays rugby and watches Westworld.