Categories: Workspace

London Researcher Invents Cheap Eye-Tracking Device

A German scientist working at Imperial College London has created a device that could allow computers to be controlled by eye movement – using parts that cost a total of just £43.

Dr. Aldo Faisal, who runs a neurotechnology laboratory at Imperial College London, told The Guardian that the invention is based on two £9.95 web cameras provided with a games console. Fitted to a head-mounted harness and using software developed as part of Faisal’s research, the cameras can track a user’s eye movement, using it to control a computer cursor. He said medical research equipment for carrying out a similar task would cost £20,000.

Restricted movement

Dr. Faisal said such a device could be used to help the 6 million Britons with restricted hand movement. The use of commodity hardware demonstrates that his lab’s eye-tracking software works on readily available equpment, he said.

The lab, which is part of the college’s Departments of Bioengineering and Computing, as well as the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre, is developing software capable of identifying a user’s intended action based on eye movement, Dr. Faisal said.

“We are building systems which, based on your eye movement behaviour, try and work out what you are going to do next,” he said.

Eye-powered wheelchair

The lab’s researchers have also produced a wheelchair and a robot arm directed by eye movement.

The prototype wheelchair uses a plastic eye-tracking bar normally used to track whether a user is looking at web advertising, according to Dr. Faisal. Its software can distinguish when a user’s eye movement indicates an intent to drive the device, he said.

The lab is currently working on commercialising its work, and Dr. Faisal said he believes devices based on the technology could be on the market in two to five years.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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