Eye-tracking systems would undoubtedly provide a boost to augmented reality applications, which could adjust imagery based on what the user was looking at, or be used for hands-free gaming using nothing but rapid eye movements. Researchers from Dartmouth University have designed low-cost Eye-Tracking Glasses that will purportedly improve player controls and allow for increased accuracy with image displays.
Integration of eye-tracking system into eyewear has always been a limitation due to the amount of power consumption they require. The Eye-Tracking Glasses circumvent this problem by using solar cells to power the platform.
According to associate professor of computer science Xia Zhou, who headed the team:
“This is an exciting advancement for gamers, developers and other users of smart glasses, it’s the first-ever eye tracker that can fit into your everyday glasses and run without batteries.”
The researchers designed their Eye-Tracking Glasses using a custom PCB populated with six NIR LEDs and 12 photodiodes, along with a MINI-M4 FOR MSP432 microcontroller, and thin-film solar cells mounted onto a pair of store-bought glasses. The LEDs are angled to illuminate the users left eye from several different angles, while the photodiodes detect the reflected light patterns. The microcontroller uses custom algorithms to analyze those patterns to discern the exact position of the pupil- it’s trajectory, velocity, and acceleration, all in real-time.
What’s interesting, is the glasses only work indoors, as strong outdoor infrared light tends to saturate the light sensors, rendering them ineffective- meaning the solar cells can power the glasses just from ambient sunlight or indoor lighting. The researchers are already looking for ways to uses the headwear outdoors, as well as miniaturizing the technology to implement into different styles of glasses.