For long, researchers have sought to find ways to track eye movements and use that as signals to control different devices. Until now, this was impossible because eye movements make a lot of involuntary as well as voluntary movements. And it’s quite hard to distinguish between the two. However, now Dr Jean Lorenceau at Universite Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris has been able to overcome this critical problem. He has been able to devise a medical device which can accurately read voluntary eye movements and then translate them into words.
The chief problem with accurate eye tracking has been the involuntary movements of an eye. A person doesn’t have a lot of control over the movements of his eyes. His eyes can make a lot of involuntary movements that he may not even originally intend. But Dr. Lorenceau found out a way to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary eye movements. Through an optical illusion called ‘reverse phi motion’, he can accurately separate the voluntary movements from involuntary movements.
Dr. Lorenceau applied the technique to build a “temporally modulated visual display”. The device can sustain “smooth eye movements in arbitrary directions.”
According to Dr. Lorenceau, a simple 90-minute training session can enable a person to use his medical device and “can generate digits, letters, words, or drawings at will” through eye movements. Participants can generate symbols at a speed of 20 characters a minute.
This may not sound like a very good speed; but in terms of science, it is a huge achievement. Given the accuracy of the device, it can be used by people with physical disabilities to pen down their thoughts.
The findings are published in Current Biology, couple of days ago.
Source: Current Biology