Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


An affordable future for eye tracking in sight


An ambitious five-year project will attempt to make eye-tracking technologies more affordable for people with disabilities and extend the potential use of the devices to enable users to live more independently.

The Communication by Gaze Interaction (COGAIN) project will examine current state-of-the-art technologies, develop new software standards to extend the available products and research new applications for the technology based on end-users’ real needs.

"It’s a big project and it’s novel in that it brings together all the interested parties," says Kari-Jouko Räihä, Professor of Computer Science at the Finnish University of Tampere and IST-funded COGAIN project coordinator.

It’s also important. Eye tracking technologies could transform the lives of tens of thousands of people across Europe. The most extreme example of how this technology is used is its ability to give voice to people who are ’locked-in’, people who can only move their eyes and only communicate with their gaze, says Räihä. "But it also has applications for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [ALS], also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Cerebral Palsy, or Multiple Sclerosis [MS]."

Currently state-of-the-art eye tracking equipment is very advanced, with an extremely high spatial and temporal resolution – it can detect tiny movements in millisecond intervals. "The problem is that this equipment is very expensive – about €20,000 for a top-of-the-range system," says Räihä. COGAIN hopes to develop new equipment – in cooperation with manufacturers – that can provide sufficient resolution at a reasonable cost.

The basic eye-tracking system consists of a camera, a computer and software to provide an interface between the two. In an expensive system the camera uses an internal light source to create reflections on the eye. The camera tracks these reflections and uses them to move a cursor on the screen, for example.

COGAIN hopes to provide the same functionality, though at a lower performance, using an ordinary Web cam and ambient light.

But the project plans to do more. Currently eye-tracking systems are tied to proprietary software, which means that every new application must be written for a particular piece of controlling software. COGAIN wants to create standard control software so applications can be developed by anybody.

This is a key development. One of COGAIN’s aims is to develop new applications. This could include new types of text entry. "Currently most text entry is done using a ’soft keyboard’. Essentially it’s a picture of a keyboard and users move the cursor along until they find the right letter," says Räihä.

But another system developed by one project partner, the University of Cambridge, uses a type of predictive text, where letters move across the screen and users fix their gaze on the letters they want. "It’s an unusual system, and it takes a little training to get used to it, but users can enter text at 20 words a minute once they become familiar with the system. That’s very fast," says Räihä.

He adds that the application is hard to imagine if you don’t see it in action. "But think of all the other potential applications for this technology that we just haven’t thought about, or imagined yet. The potential is enormous and COGAIN aims to develop that."

The project’s partners already have some ideas. Software that could control heating and lighting through eye-tracking technology and a PC is one possible application. "We currently have a specialist group within the project looking at environmental controls," says Räihä. He adds that they are also examining the potential for controlling a wheelchair through eye-movements. This could change lives, for the better.

The project began in September 2004 and the team spent the first year establishing the current state of the market and creating links between all the different stakeholders. "So far we’ve held several meetings to build up networking between the various partners in the consortium,” says Räihä. “We’ve also held our first COGAIN camp, which brought researchers and manufacturers into contact with end-users. It was a very interesting meeting and the researchers gained a new respect and understanding for the needs of people with disabilities."

Jernett Karensen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>