ELECTRONICS

Imec develops new fast eye tracking technology

Imec, the research and innovation hub, based in Leuven, Belgium has demonstrated a new wireless eye-tracking technology based on electro-oculography (EOG), an ophthalmology technique used to examine eyes and record eye movement.

The technology, which has been integrated into a standard pair of eyeglasses, can significantly improve augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences. Moreover, imec said that it aims to employ it for clinical research on neurodegenerative diseases.

TheEOG technology uses five dry-contact electrodes mounted on a standard pair of eyeglasses. The electrodes detect the eye-movement, while the ergonomic design gives the wearer the comfortable familiarity of every-day glass frames.

It is less expensive and less bulky compared to state-of-the-art AR/VR headsets with eye-tracking capability. Moreover, the approach taken by imec can achieve a sampling rate of 256
samples per second, making it more than twice as fast as current camera-based solutions for detecting eye position.

Based on Bluetooth wireless technology, it is more energy efficient, requiring only one battery in a small box behind the wearer’s ear. Another small box includes the electronics.

This EOG technology can also be used in AR/VR applications to navigate interfaces and menus quickly by the user’s eye gestures, eliminating the need for cumbersome hand controllers. An advanced algorithm translates the eye movement signals into virtual commands: lateral eye movements can for example be used to swipe and turn, while blinking will trigger a move forward.

Eye movement analysis is increasingly being used in studies on neurological disorders, resulting in scientific evidence that eye movements are affected by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, even at an early stage. With this in
mind, imec aims to employ its technology for clinical research on the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and monitoring disease progression.

Author
Neil Tyler

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