Eye tracking technology is cheaper, faster, says imec

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Imec and Holst Centre have unveiled a sensing technology which allows eye movement to be detected in real time using electrical sensing. This, say the partners, opens the way for next generation eye-tracking technology, including application in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

While camera-based solutions can determine where users are looking, most cameras’ frame rates are not fast enough to match rapid eye movements, such as during reading. Electrical sensing is said by imec to offer a more inexpensive alternative, while solving the issue of the image processing delay.

Imec’s sensors were integrated into a set of glasses, with four built-in electrodes around each lens. Two electrodes pick up the eye’s vertical movement, while the other two detect horizontal movement. Meanwhile, an advanced algorithm translates the signals into a position, based on the angle the eye is making with its central point of vision. Imec’s solution also provides information on the eye’s behaviour, including the speed of movement or the frequency and duration of blinks.

“Human eyes have a natural electrical potential,” said imec researcher Gabriel Squillace. “We are leveraging this feature to develop the next-generation of eye-movement detection devices that can detect the eye’s position in real time at a five times lower cost and up to four times faster than what is currently available on the market. The goal is to develop a solution that can track the eye’s most rapid movements, enabling seamless real time tracking for AR and VR applications.”