Eyes control data glasses

AUTHOR: Inavate

Scientists in Germany have developed a head-mounted display (HMD) that can be controlled by eye-movement, paving the way for the creation of an interactive display mounted within a pair of glasses. The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) in Dresden has created a CMOS chip with an eye tracker in the microdisplay that can be connected to a PDA, display information and respond to commands.

Whilst head-mounted displays aren’t anything new the Institute says at present these devices can only display information. “We want to make the eyeglasses bidirectional and interactive so that new areas of application can be opened up,” said Dr. Michael Scholles, business unit manager at IPMS in Dresden.

A group of scientists at IPMS is working on a device which incorporates eye tracking – users can influence the content presented by moving their eyes or fixing on certain points in the image. Without having to use any other devices to enter instructions, the wearer can display new content, scroll through the menu or shift picture elements. Scholles believes that the bidirectional data eyeglasses will yield advantages wherever people need to consult additional information but do not have their hands free to operate a keyboard or mouse. The Dresden-based researchers have integrated their system’s eye tracker and image reproduction on a CMOS chip. This makes the HMDs small, light, easy to manufacture and inexpensive.

The chip measuring 19.3 by 17mm is fitted on the prototype eyeglasses behind the hinge on the temple. From the temple the image on the microdisplay is projected onto the retina of the user so that it appears to be viewed from a distance of about one metre. The image has to outshine the ambient light to ensure that it can be seen clearly against changing and highly contrasting backgrounds. For this reason the research scientists use OLEDs, organic light-emitting diodes, to produce microdisplays of particularly high luminance.

In industry and in the medical field, the interactive data eyeglasses could enable numerous tasks to be performed more simply, efficiently and precisely. Many scenarios are possible, including patients’ vital functions, MRT and x-ray images for the operating surgeon, construction drawings for erection engineers and installation instructions for service technicians.