Imec, a non-profit R&D innovation organization, has introduced a wearable device that integrates wireless eye-tracking technology into regular eyeglasses.
A technique called electrooculography (EOG) is incorporated into the “smartglasses,” which measures the electrical potential across particular points on the skin around the eyes during eye movement.
For the EOG, the glasses use five dry-contact electrodes: 2 on the temples, 2 on the nose pads, and 1 attached to the bridge of the glasses that makes contact with the bridge of the nose. A small battery is encased in the back of one of the temples; the electronics, which include a Bluetooth antenna, are housed in the other.
Imec believes the new wireless eye-tracing glasses will have multiple health benefits. For example, it notes that patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease often experience symptoms of abnormal eye movements. Already there has been research to utilize eye movement tracking technology to help diagnose and monitor the progression of these disorders. Conventional eye-tracking technology depends heavily on cameras. While these cameras produce accurate results, they are usually big and consume huge amounts of electrical and computing power. Imec says its new device can be used in this research. It intends to apply its technology to clinical research on early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and monitoring disease progression.
According to a company statement, the EOG technology can be integrated to generate more immersive AR/VR experiences. In AR/VR, the application can be used to navigate interfaces and menus faster by the user’s eye gestures, removing the need for clumsy hand controllers. An advanced algorithm interprets the eye movement signals into virtual command. For instance, lateral eye movements can be used to swipe and turn, while blinking will trigger a move forward.
“The EOG glasses represent just one of many wearable devices that have come from Imec research,” says Alessio Meroni, project leader at Imec in Holst Centre (the Netherlands). “Our constant mission is to leverage our semiconductor technology expertise to deliver innovative devices that can be worn as easily as the eyeglasses. With our collaborative R&D model, we accomplish outstanding results in AR/VR, innovative healthcare and lifestyle technologies. We invite companies in the medical field to join our efforts to turn this technology into a valuable diagnostic tool.”
Imec accomplished the EOG glass design in collaboration with GBO, an industrial design company based in Antwerp, Belgium. Datwyler Group, based in Altdorf, Switzerland, partnered with Imec to develop the dry polymer electrodes for the glasses.