07 October 2013
Advancements in microtechnology, photonic devices, image sensors and illuminators are helping people with speech impairments and other disabilities communicate and experience a greatly enhanced quality of life without the need for bulky head gear or a bite bar.
A recent article in SPIE Professional magazine outlines the innovations that Swedish-based Tobii Technology has made with eye-tracking technologies for augmentative communication systems for people with ALS, (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), for example, as well as for applications in auto safety, medical imaging, human psychology research and more.
“Assistive technologies and eye tracking make a natural pair to allow people with disabilities to regain independence and maintain communication,” said Henrik Eskilsson, CEO and co-founder of Tobii Technology.
Tobii eye trackers are based on the principle of corneal-reflection tracking. First, one or several near-infrared illuminators on an eye-tracking device create reflection patterns on the cornea of the eyes.
Image sensors then register the image of the user’s eyes in real time.
Image processing is used to find the eyes, detect the exact position of the pupil and/or iris, and identify the correct reflections from the illuminators and their exact positions.
Mathematical models of the eye are then used to calculate the eyes’ position in 3D and the point of gaze.
This approach frees the subjects being tracked from having to wear subject-stabilizing equipment.
“By using our natural gaze point as part of our user controls, we can experience a more efficient method of obtaining and sharing information and eliminate an interaction barrier between ourselves and our most valued gadgets,” Eskilsson wrote.
Eskilsson says eye-tracking technology is coming soon to the mass consumer market for home electronics systems, video games, accident prevention systems in cars, and even to help athletes optimize their performance.