Wink of an eye to control computers!

An invention that can open up new avenues of communication at affordable cost

By Prashant Vadgaonkar

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Published: Sat 28 Jul 2012, 9:06 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:55 AM

THERE IS some great news for people suffering from degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis wherein the motor faculties are severely curtailed but the eyes or the vision can work in tandem with the cognitive abilities to help initiate movements and actions.

Researchers at London’s Imperial College have devised a pathbreaking technology that can allow people suffering from “locked-in syndrome” to interact with computers by simply using their eyes! Locked-in syndrome is a condition in which a patient is aware and awake but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete or partial paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes – the mobility thus remains restricted to the eyes!

This research has the potential to dramatically enhance the quality of life of folks who are differently abled or paralysed on account of “locked-in syndrome” and proves that technology computing can be a huge boon.

The device comprises of two video game console cameras, attached to a pair of calibrated glasses — the cameras of course, lie just outside the line of vision. That data captured is beamed over Wi-Fi or USB into a Windows / Linux PC which in turn uses some software to locate where the eyes are looking. The camera thus is able to understand where the pupil is looking which in turn pinpoints exactly where on the screen the subjects’ gaze is fixed — also allowing to control a cursor or even allowing a “click” using the eye (read mouse) by simply winking!! The software is also intelligent enough to determine the distance in space where the subject is looking. Using this invention researches feel that the subject simply needs to think and look at the object and the rest will be taken care of! The best part of this “eye-tracking invention” from Imperial College is that it was created with completely off-the-shelf materials, thereby making it low-cost and affordable.

Dr. Aldo Faisal, one of the researchers of the project said “This is frugal innovation; developing smarter software and piggy-backing existing hardware to create devices that can help people worldwide independent of their healthcare circumstances.”

This invention can be a major landmark since it signifies integration of computing and medical technologies to potentially transform the lives of thousands of patients for whom this could open up new avenues of communication at affordable cost! — prashant.vadgaonkar@hotmail.com



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