eyewriter 2.0

19 Dec

I recently read about this really cool hack someone did. The graffiti research lab made eye tracking software and hardware so that a paralyzed graffiti writers could still draw graffiti.

It involves combining cheap parts in a clever way that lets the software track a persons eye movement in a very precise way.

The EyeWriter is a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus + custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to draw using only their eyes.

The original design featured a pair of glasses as the basis for the eyewriter design.

Since that first video, we’ve been hacking on and developing the project, and we have a new design, which we’ve called “eyewriter 2.0” which improves the accuracy of the device, and allow for people who’s heads are moving slightly to also use an eye tracker. The original eyewriter, designed for a paralyzed Graffiti artist TEMPT1, is designed to be worn on a completely motionless head. The 2.0 design, which uses a camera and LED system mounted away from the head, can be used by people whose heads are moving slightly, such as MS patients, and people who wear glasses, etc.

This eyewriter system is cheap, and completely open source. At the moment, it costs about 200$ in parts. Traditional commercial eye trackers costs between $9000-$20,000, so this is a magnitude of order cheaper, and is designed to help anyone who wants or needs an eyetracker.

This fall, we’ve been showing off and demoing the 2.0 device — check out the eyewriter 2.0 in action — we even hooked it up to a robotic arm, to draw the artwork people make with their eyes.

If I only heard about this before I started my project. Who knows? I may even be able to shoe horn this in still. Being able to actually track where someone is looking? how cool is that. By the looks of it though, the persons head has to be pretty still. They say it allows head movement, but since they shoved the persons head in a brace to keep it still, it seems pretty low on tolerance to me.

Brain reading AND eye tracking would be one hell of a combo.

The reasons why they built this are really nice. It was built purely to help someone else rather than because its cool. It’s also good to see that the thing works in an exhibition style setting with low light levels etc. The whole oroject intrigues me, I like the fact that it’s using body parts that you wouldnt normally associate with interfaces and making them not only work, but work really well.

Another issue with this being used for my project is that it would need a camera in front of the users face and this takes away from the whole magic of my project. I want to keep it as magical as possible. Eye tracking would be exceptionally magical yes, but you could see instantly how its done. Hiding a camera thats tracking your eyes may be a bit tricky see.

It’s written in OpenFrameworks so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to get it working in flash. The basic setup for this is actually a small IR cam mounted on an arm on some sunglasses. You flood one eye with IR light and the cam picks up the rest.

Could this be built into the hat? Possibly.

It has the same flaw that the epoc headset has, you need to calibrate it for each individual user. Not good for quick fun gaming. I have to overcome that in my project really, thats what I have to think about the most in terms of the exhibition. For now a working game with a working base level and boss level is what im going for.



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