The Eyes Have It: Stare Down Your Lighting

You know how you can feel when someone is looking at you? Thanks to a person detector, [Michael Rigsby’s] little robotic light switch also knows when you are looking at it. As you can see in the video below, when it notices you are looking at it, it lights up an LED. If you continue to gaze at it, it will turn to stare back at you. Keep staring it down and it will toggle the state of a remote control light switch.

This all works because of the person sensor module by Useful Sensors. The little module has a camera and face detection built into it. It doesn’t draw much power at 150 milliwatts. It can sense faces, including where they are and how many people are looking.

Once you have that data via I2C it is easy to program an Arduino or whatever to do what you want. In this case, an Uno,  a servo motor, and some relays are all it takes. We might have made it interface with our smart home devices to turn on anything we want, but that would be an easy mod. The relays have the virtue of working with anything. For this project, he uses them to close switch contacts on a remote control.

You might think this is pointless, but look at all the Clappers that have been sold that do virtually the same thing in a much less elegant way. You can also use the sensor in reverse and make a robot or a clock that is bashful.

8 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It: Stare Down Your Lighting

  1. The “person sensor” by “Useful Sensors” has been out of stock for quite a while.
    Does anyone know if they will re-stock soon or a place where the module is still available?

  2. I have a question… They refer to their product as “person detector”, but all it seems to do is to detect faces, so… it’s a person detector, or it is a face detector? Will it detect someone facing backwards? facing sideways? Or should the person be looking at the camera?

    1. It is really a face detector, with the added bonus of telling you if the face is directly facing the camera. It doesn’t know if you’re actually looking at the camera, just that your face seems to be straight on.

  3. Can it tell if your eyes are open because I have thought for a long time of a device that pauses netflix playback for you when you fall asleep watching a film then re-starts where you left off when you wake up and open your eyes.

    1. It can do some face recognition – perhaps it would recognise “me awake” and “me asleep” as different faces. For $10 it’s tempting to get one just to find out (except that they’re out of stock).

  4. Despite the beginning of the last paragraph, I certainly hope no one thinks this is a pointless piece of tech. There are hundreds of thousands of people who – due various disabilities, age, or some other factor – could benefit from such technology to increase their independence, communicate, and play. There do currently exist technologies that use gaze detection to enable communication via computer, but those are insanely expensive and even if you can get funding from your state or county, still require lots of red tape and hoop jumping. Same with toys, or tech to turn lights/music/whatever on and off that is accessible if you have limited mobility and/or ability to speak. Plus, children with limited mobility might not even be able to use a physical switch, but a device that can detect if they’re looking at it and activate a fun toy, deactivate when they look away, activate when they look again… that’s much closer to typical play behavior for children than having your parent help you play by moving your toys, doing hand-over-hand, or playing with something online or in a tablet.

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