Imec designs eye tracking technology into eyeglasses for AR/VR and medical use

At the Imec Technology Forum in Antwerp (ITF Belgium 2018, 23 to 24 May), the research centre for nano-electronics has demonstrated a wireless eye-tracking technology based on electro-oculography (EOG). The ophthalmology technique is used to examine eyes and record eye movement and this technology has been integrated into a standard pair of eyeglasses, initially to improve augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, although it will also be used in clinical research on neurodegenerative diseases, advises Imec.

Imec’s EOG technology uses five dry-contact electrodes mounted on a standard pair of eyeglasses. The electrodes detect the eye-movement, without making the wearer uncomfortable, wearing glasses that are less expensive and less bulky than AR/VR headsets with eye-tracking capability.

The technology can achieve a sampling rate of 256 samples per second, making it more than twice as fast as current camera-based solutions for detecting eye position. It is based on Bluetooth wireless technology, so it is energy efficient, requiring only one battery in a small box behind the wearer’s ear and another small box which includes the electronics.

The EOG technology can be used in AR/VR applications to navigate interfaces and menus quickly via the user’s eye gestures, eliminating the need for hand controllers. An advanced algorithm translates the eye movement signals into virtual commands, for example lateral eye movements can be used to swipe and turn, and blinking triggers a move forward.

Eye movement analysis has increasingly been used in neurological disorder studies, producing evidence that eye movements are affected by neuro-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, even at an early stage. Imec intends to employ its technology for clinical research on the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and monitoring disease progression.

The compact, ergonomic design of the EOG glasses was accomplished in partnership 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.

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