Patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease often experience symptoms of abnormal eye movements. There had been extensive research conducted 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 amount of electrical and computing power.
At the Imec Technology Forum (ITF) conference in Antwerp, Belgium, Imec, a non-profit R&D innovation organization, unveiled a wearable device concept that integrates wireless eye-tracking technology into a standard pair of eyeglasses.
The smartglasses use a technique called electrooculography (EOG), 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 encased in the back of one of the temples; the electronics, which include a Bluetooth antenna, are housed in the other.
The EOG technology can be integrated to generate more immersive AR/VR experiences, according to Imec. 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 commands; for example 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,” said 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 announced today. 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.”
Partners in the Project
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.
Based in Leuven, Belgium, Imec is the world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. It is led since 2009 by Luc Van den Hove. In September 2016, the institute merged with the Flemish digital research center, iMinds. Imec employs around 3,500 researchers from more than 75 countries and has numerous facilities dedicated to research and development around the world.