Friday, April 29, 2011

GazeGroup's Henrik Skovsgaard wins "Stars with brains" competiton

During the Danish Research Day 2011 Henrik Skovsgaard, PhD candidate at @ ITU Copenhagen, won the competition "Stars with Brains" (Stjerner med hjerner). Several high profile individuals (stars) were present including the Minister of Science, Princess Marie and Mayor Frank Jensen. The competition consisted of eight doctoral students (brains) from universities across Denmark who presented their research in a layman terms. The audience voted on their favorite candidate using SMS messaging whereby a panel of judges evaluated the participants. Later in the day Henrik was invited to an interview on the Aftenshow on national TV. Henriks research at the IT University of Copenhagen focuses primarily on gaze-based interaction as a communication tool for disabled and have participated in the development of the software. A big congrats to Henrik for the award, excellent public outreach and associated stardom!

PhD student Henrik Skovsgaard won the "Stars with brains". Photo: Tariq Mikkel Khan (source)

From right: Mayor Frank Jensen, HRH Princess Marie and Minister of Science Charlotte Sahl-Madsen. Photo: Tariq Mikkel Khan (source)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Specs for SMI GazeWear released

The specifications for the SMI GazeWear has just been announced. The head mounted tracker takes the shape of a pair of glasses and has a impressive set of features. It offers 30Hz binocular tracking (both eyes) at 0.5 deg accuracy with automatic parallax compensation for accurate gaze estimation over distances above 40cm. The dark pupil, corneal reflection based system has a tracking range of 70° horizontal / 55°. vertical angle. SMI has managed to squeeze in a HD scene camera located in the center of the frame which offers 1280x960 resolution at 30 frames per second. However, the viewing angle is slightly smaller than the tracking range at 63° horizontal and 41° vertical angle. The weight of the device is specified to 75 grams with the dimensions of 173x58x168mm (w/h/d) and is estimated to fit subjects above age 7.

SMI GazeWear
A mobile recording unit is offered which stores data on a SD card, weighs 420 grams, and has minimum of 40 minutes recording time. However, a subnotebook can be used to extend recording time towards two hours.   

With the new tracker SMI seriously improves their offering in the head mounted segment with a form factor that certainly appears more attractive to a wide range of applications. The specs stands up well against the Tobii glasses which has a similar form but is limited to monocular tracking and a lower resolution scene camera.  No details on availability is provided other than "coming soon", something we heard since late December. Once they are out the game is on. 

The flyer may be downloaded as pdf.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Development of a head-mounted, eye-tracking system for dogs (Williams et al, 2011)

Fiona Williams, Daniel Milss and Kun Guo at the University of Lincoln have developed a head mounted eye tracking system for our four legged friends. Using a special construct based on a head strap and a muzzle the device was mounted on the head of the dog where a dichroic mirror placed in front of one of the eyes reflects the IR image back to the camera.

The device was adapted from a VisionTrack system by IScan/Polhemus and contains two miniature cameras, one for the eye and one for the scene which is connected to a host workstation. When used with human subject such setup provides 0.3 deg. of accuracy according to the manufacturer. Williams et al obtained an accuracy of 2-3 deg. from a single dog when using a special calibration method containing five points located on a cross which was mounted at the tip of the muzzle. Using positive reenforcement the dog was gradually trained to wear and fixate targets which I'm sure wasn't an easy task.

Growing interest in canine cognition and visual perception has promoted research into the allocation of visual attention during free-viewing tasks in the dog. The techniques currently available to study this (i.e. preferential looking) have, however, lacked spatial accuracy, permitting only gross judgements of the location of the dog’s point of gaze and are limited to a laboratory setting. Here we describe a mobile, head-mounted, video-based, eye-tracking system and a procedure for achieving standardised calibration allowing an output with accuracy of 2–3◦. The setup allows free movement of dogs; in addition the procedure does not involve extensive training skills, and is completely non-invasive. This apparatus has the potential to allow the study of gaze patterns in a variety of research applications and could enhance the study of areas such as canine vision, cognition and social interactions.

  • Fiona J. Williams, Daniel S. Mills, Kun Guo, Development of a head-mounted, eye-tracking system for dogs, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Volume 194, Issue 2, 15 January 2011, Pages 259-265, ISSN 0165-0270, DOI: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.10.022. (available from ScienceDirect)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fraunhofer CMOS-OLED Headmounted display with integrated eye tracker

"The Fraunhofer IPMS works on the integration of sensors and microdisplays on CMOS backplane for several years now. For example the researchers have developed a bidirectional microdisplay, which could be used in Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) for gaze triggered augmented-reality (AR) aplications. The chips contain both an active OLED matrix and therein integrated photodetectors. The combination of both matrixes in one chip is an essential possibility for system integrators to design smaller, lightweight and portable systems with both functionalities." (Press release)
"Rigo Herold, PhD student at Fraunhofer IPMS and participant of the development team, declares: This unique device enables the design of a new generation of small AR-HMDs with advanced functionality. The OLED microdisplay based Eyetracking HMD enables the user on the one hand to overlay the view of the real world with virtual contents, for example to watch videos at jog. And on the other hand the user can select the next video triggered only by his gaze without using his hands." (Press release)

Sensor integrates both OLED display and CMOS imaging sensor. 

Rigo Herold will present the system at the SID 2011 exhibitor forum at May 17, 2011 4:00 p.m.: Eyecatcher: The Bi-Directional OLED Microdisplay with the following specs:
  • Monochrome 
  • Special Eyetracking-Algorithm for HMDs based on bidirectional microdisplays
  • Front brightness: > 1500 cd/m²

Poster was presented at ISSCC 2011 : Industry Demonstration Session (IDS). Click to enlarge

In addition there is a paper titled "Bidirectional OLED microdisplay: Combining display and image sensor functionality into a monolithic CMOS chip" published with the following abstract:. 

"Microdisplays based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) achieve high optical performance with excellent contrast ratio and large dynamic range at low power consumption. The direct light emission from the OLED enables small devices without additional backlight, making them suitable for mobile near-to-eye (NTE) applications such as viewfinders or head-mounted displays (HMD). In these applications the microdisplay acts typically as a purely unidirectional output device [1–3]. With the integration of an additional image sensor, the functionality of the microdisplay can be extended to a bidirectional optical input/output device. The major aim is the implementation of eye-tracking capabilities in see-through HMD applications to achieve gaze-based human-display-interaction." Available at IEEE Xplore

Monday, April 18, 2011

AutomotiveUI'11 - 3rd International Conference On Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications

"In-car interactive technology is becoming ubiquitous and cars are increasingly connected to the outside world. Drivers and passengers use this technology because it provides valuable services. Some technology, such as collision warning systems, assists drivers in performing their primary in-vehicle task (driving). Other technology provides information on myriad subjects or offers entertainment to the driver and passengers.

The challenge that arises from the proliferation of in-car devices is that they may distract drivers from the primary task of driving, with possibly disastrous results. Thus, one of the major goals of this conference is to explore ways in which in-car user interfaces can be designed so as to lessen driver distraction while still enabling valuable services. This is challenging, especially given that the design of in-car devices, which was historically the responsibility of car manufacturers and their parts suppliers, is now a responsibility shared among a large and ever-changing group of parties. These parties include car OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers of factory-installed electronics, as well as the manufacturers of hardware and software that is brought into the car, for example on personal navigation devices, smartphones, and tablets.

As we consider driving safety, our focus in designing in-car user interfaces should not be purely on eliminating distractions. In-car user interfaces also offer the opportunity to improve the driver¹s performance, for example by increasing her awareness of upcoming hazards. They can also enhance the experience of all kinds of passengers in the car. To this end, a further goal of AutomotiveUI 2011 is the exploration of in-car interfaces that address the varying needs of different types of users (including disabled drivers, elderly drivers or passengers, and the users of rear-seat entertainment systems). Overall our goal is to advance the state of the art in vehicular user experiences, in order to make cars both safer and more enjoyable places to spend time."

Topics include, but are not limited to:
* new concepts for in-car user interfaces
* multimodal in-car user interfaces
* in-car speech and audio user interfaces
* text input and output while driving
* multimedia interfaces for in-car entertainment
* evaluation and benchmarking of in-car user interfaces
* assistive technology in the vehicular context
* methods and tools for automotive user interface research
* development methods and tools for automotive user interfaces
* automotive user interface frameworks and toolkits
* detecting and estimating user intentions
* detecting/measuring driver distraction and estimating cognitive load
* biometrics and physiological sensors as a user interface component
* sensors and context for interactive experiences in the car
* user interfaces for information access (search, browsing, etc.) while driving
* user interfaces for navigation or route guidance
* applications and user interfaces for inter-vehicle communication
* in-car gaming and entertainment
* different user groups and user group characteristics
* in-situ studies of automotive user interface approaches
* general automotive user experience research
* driving safety research using real vehicles and simulators
* subliminal techniques for workload reduction

AutomotiveUI 2011 invites submissions in the following categories:

* Papers (Submission Deadline: July 11th, 2011)
* Workshops (Submission Deadline: July 25th, 2011)
* Posters & Interactive Demos (Submission Deadline: Oct. 10th, 2011)
* Industrial Showcase (Submission Deadline:  Oct. 10th, 2011)

For more information on the submission categories please check

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FaceAPI signs licence deal with Chinese SuperD

Remember the glasses-free 3D displays demonstrated earlier this year at CES2011? Seeing Machines recently announced a production licence deal with Chinese Shenzhen Super Perfect Optics Limited (SuperD). The two companies have been working together for the last 12 months and the first consumer products are expected to be available during the summer. Big ambition, millions of devices including laptops, monitors and all-in-one-PCs by big name manufacturers. Interesting development as they know eye tracking too, please make that happen. Press release available here.

SMI iView X SDK 3.0 released

SMI just released version 3.0 of their Software Development Kit (SDK) which contains low and high level functions, documentation and sample code (matlab, e-prime, c/c++, Python and C#). The SDK supports Windows XP, Vista and 7 (both 32 and 64 bit). Available by for free for existing customers. Good news for developers, especially the 64-bit version for Windows 7. Releasing extensive and well documented SDKs for free is a trend that has been adopted by most manufacturers by now, it just makes perfect sense.