Monday, March 29, 2010

Low-cost eye tracking and pong gaming from Imperial College London

A group of students at the Imperial College London have develop a low-cost head mounted tracker which they use to play Pong with. The work is carried out under supervision of Aldo Faisal in his lab.

We built an eyetracking system using mass-marketed off-the shelf components at 1/1000 of that cost, i.e. for less then 30 GBP. Once we made such a system that cheap we started thinking of it as a user interface for everyday use for impaired people.. The project was enable by realising that certain mass-marketed web cameras for video game consoles offer impressive performance approaching that of much more expensive research grade cameras.

"From this starting point research in our group has focussed on two parts so far:

1. The TED software, which is composed of two components which can run on two different computers (connected by wireless internet) or run on the same computer. The first component is the TED server (Linux-based) which interfaces directly with the cameras and processes the high-speed video feed and makes the data available (over the internet) to the client software. The client forms the second components, it is written in Java (i.e. it runs on any computer, Windows, Mac, Unix, ...) and provides the Mouse-control-via-eye-movements, the “Pong” video game as well as configuration and calibration functions.

This two part solution allows the cameras to be connected to a cost-effective netbook (e.g. on a wheel chair) and allow control of other computers over the internet (e.g. in the living room, office and kitchen). This software suite, as well as part of the low-level camera driver was implemented by Ian Beer, Aaron Berk, Oliver Rogers and Timothy Treglown, for their undergraduate project in the lab.

Note:the “Pong” video game has a two player mode, allowing two people to play against each other using two eye-trackers or eye-tracker vs keyboard. It is very easy to use, just look where you want the pong paddle to move...

2. The camera-spectacles (visible in most press photos), as well as a two-camera software (Windows-based) able to track eye-movements in 3D (i.e. direction and distance) for wheelchair control. These have been build and developed by William Abbott (Dept. of Bioengineering)."

Further reading:

Imperial College London press release: Playing “Pong” with the blink of an eye
The Engineer: Eye-movement game targets disabled
Engadget (German): Neurotechnologie: Pong mit Augenblinzeln gespielt in London

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