Low-Cost Eye Tracking with Webcams and Open-Source Software

“What are you looking at?” Said the wrong way, those can be fighting words. But in fields as diverse as psychological research and user experience testing, knowing what people are looking at in real-time can be invaluable. Eye-tracking software does this, but generally at a cost that keeps it out of the hands of the home gamer.

Or it used to. With hacked $20 webcams, this open source eye tracker will let you watch how someone is processing what they see. But [John Evans]’ Hackaday Prize entry is more than that. Most of the detail is in the video below, a good chunk of which [John] uses to extol the virtues of the camera he uses for his eye tracker, a Logitech C270. And rightly so — the cheap and easily sourced camera has remarkable macro capabilities right out of the box, a key feature for a camera that’s going to be trained on an eyeball a few millimeters away. Still, [John] provides STL files for mounts that snap to the torn-down camera PCB, in case other focal lengths are needed.

The meat of the project is his Jevons Camera Viewer, an app he wrote to control and view two cameras at once. Originally for a pick and place, the software can be used to coordinate the views of two goggle-mounted cameras, one looking out and one focused on the user’s eye. Reflections from the camera LED are picked up and used to judge the angle of the eye, with an overlay applied to the other camera’s view to show where the user is looking. It seems quite accurate, and plenty fast to boot.

We think this is a great project, like so many others in the first round of the 2018 Hackaday Prize. Can you think of an awesome project based on eye tracking? Here’s your chance to get going on the cheap.

8 thoughts on “Low-Cost Eye Tracking with Webcams and Open-Source Software

  1. “What are you looking at?” Said the wrong way, those can be fighting words.

    Even more so when you do like I like to do: Look them up and down, then say ‘Not much, to be honest.”

    Works every time. :)

  2. John should probably look into Laptop camera modules, they are usually integrated on a thin (~5mm) strip of pcb – less distracting than huge logi camera in your eye.

  3. The comments on his page are wrong, you can remove the IR filter from that Logitech cam, although it is finicky since it’s very near the sensor on the PCB rather than in the back of the lens, so you need to slice with a razor blade or some such..
    There is a youtube on the subject as I recall.

    And on the subject of the software; I think it’s a bit confusing to use the term ‘app’ when it’s seemingly meant to run on a PC rather than a phone. So it would make more sense to use ‘program’ or ‘software’ instead of ‘app’.

  4. Was just thinking of this the other day on my motorbike. What if as well as my headcam footage you had a gaze tracking camera to see where I was looking at the time (Or not looking as the case may be)

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