A new wireless eye-tracking technology is based on electro-oculography (EOG), an ophthalmology technique used to examine eyes and record eye movement. The technology, which is integrated into a standard pair of eyeglasses, can significantly improve augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences.

An algorithm translates eye movement signals into commands. (Credit: imec/Holst Centre)

The EOG technology utilizes five dry-contact electrodes mounted on a standard pair of eyeglasses. The electrodes detect the eye movement, while the ergonomic design gives the wearer the comfortable familiarity of everyday glass frames. It is less expensive and less bulky compared to state-of-the-art AR/VR headsets with eye-tracking capability. Moreover, the novel approach 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. Based on Bluetooth wireless technology, it is more energy efficient, requiring only one battery in a small box behind the wearer's ear. Another small box includes the electronics.

It can be used in AR/VR applications to navigate interfaces and menus quickly by the user’s eye gestures, eliminating the need for cumbersome hand controllers. An advanced algorithm translates the eye movement signals into virtual commands: lateral eye movements can, for example, be used to swipe and turn, while blinking will trigger a move forward.

Eye movement analysis has been increasingly used in studies on neurological disorders, resulting in scientific evidence that eye movements are affected by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer’s disease, even at an early stage. The researchers plan to use it for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases and monitoring disease progression.

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