OpenCV knows where you’re looking with eye tracking

[John] has been working on a video-based eye tracking solution using OpenCV, and we’re loving the progress. [John]‘s pupil tracking software can tell anyone exactly where you’re looking and allows for free head movement.

The basic idea behind this build is simple; when looking straight ahead a pupil is perfectly circular. When an eye looks off to one side, a pupil looks more and more like an ellipse to a screen-mounted video camera. By measuring the dimensions of this ellipse, [John]‘s software can make a very good guess where the eye is looking. If you want the extremely technical breakdown, here’s an ACM paper going over the technique.

Like the EyeWriter project this build was based on, [John]‘s build uses IR LEDs around the edge of a monitor to increase the contrast between the pupil and the iris.

After the break are two videos showing the eyetracker in action. Watching [John]‘s project at work is a little creepy, but the good news is a proper eye tracking setup doesn’t require the user to stare at their eye.

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Kids type with their eyes, robot arm prints their words

F.A.T. took it to the next level, combining a couple of their projects for the Cinekid festival. This contraption lets kids write their names with their eyes for printing by a robot arm. The first part is a glasses-free version of the EyeWriter, originally developed as an assistive technology. The system uses some IR LEDs to generate a reflection on your eye that a PS3 camera can pick up and use to precisely track your gaze. Just look at each key on a virtual keyboard to spell out your message. From there, a robot arm used previously in the Robotagger project prints out the name on a big sheet of paper the kids can take home. This is cool, but more importantly it’s a great way to inspire the next generation of hackers and engineers. Check out the video after the break.

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EyeWriter is the fruit of the KanEye project

eyewriter-project

The EyeWriter is an open source eye tracking initiative. This is the mature version of the KanEye project we covered in April. Collaboratively developed by Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, and the Graffiti Research Lab, they seek to aid a friend of theirs who suffers from the degenerative muscle disease ALS.

They’ve come a long way since we last looked in on the progress. The hardware used is pretty much the same: a set of sunglasses sans lenses with the CCD from a Sony PlayStation 3 Eye mounted in front of one eye. IR LEDs surround the CCD and point at the eye to increase the contrast between pupil and the rest of the eye. The major improvement comes with the software. Eye tracking appears to be extremely precise and they’ve written a custom drawing program to take advantage of their interface. Check in on their developer page for source code and a video walk-through of the software.

After the break you can see video of [Tempt1] using the system to create some tags. We’re thankful for the success this project has seen as this guy can do a lot better with his eye than we can with our hands.

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