Fast eye tracking technology provides ergonomic design for AR/VR

Wireless eye tracking technology from Imec could be used for healthcare applications such as early detection of neurodegenerative diseases, reports the research hub.

The wireless eye-tracking technology is based on electro-oculography (EOG), an ophthalmology technique used to examine eyes and record eye movement. The technology can be integrated into a standard pair of eyeglasses to “significantly improve” augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences. It can also be used in clinical research on neurodegenerative diseases.

Imec’s EOG technology uses five dry-contact electrodes mounted on a standard pair of eyeglasses. The electrodes detect eye movement in a comfortable, familiar format of glasses’ frames. According to imec, it is less expensive and less bulky compared to state-of-the-art AR/VR headsets with eye-tracking capability.

The EOG technology 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 energy efficient, requiring only one battery in a small box behind the wearer’s ear. Another small box includes the electronics.

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

Studies on neurological disorders using eye movement analysis shows that eye movements are affected by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, even at an early stage. Imec is confident that EOG technology can be used in clinical research on the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and monitoring disease progression.

The compact, ergonomic design of the EOG glasses was accomplished in partnership 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.

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