The new generation of smart phones has been revolutionised with the introduction of technologies like touch screen, gyroscope, photo camera, etc. These innovations in conjunction with the increase in hardware performance, allows a different approach in the use of these devices improving user experience and interaction. Several recent research projects demonstrate how the interaction with mobile phone technologies improved.
As Smartphones evolve researchers are studying new techniques to ease the human-mobile interaction. The Eye Phone, is a “hand-free” interfacing system capable of driving mobile applications/functions using only the user’s eyes movement and actions like winking.
Eye Phone tracks the user’s eye movement across the phone’s display using the camera mounted on the front of the phone; to track the eye and infer its position on the mobile phone display as the user views a particular application.
What the Eye phone is Capable Of?
The most significant innovation of the past few years is the adoption of touch screen technology. This touch screen has changed the way people interact with their mobile phones because it provides an intuitive way to perform actions using the movement of one or more fingers on the display.
The eye phone is capable of tracking the position of the eye on the display, mapping this positions to any application that is activated by a wink. At no time does the user have to physically touch the phone display. Researchers and phone vendors are continuously searching for new approaches to reduce the user’s effort when accessing applications on limited form factor devices such as mobile phones.
Eye Phone Design
The eye tracking and blink detection mechanisms was originally designed for desktop machines using USB cameras. The Eye Phone design breaks down into the following phases:
- An Eye Detection Phase;
- An Open Eye Template Creation Phase;
- An Eye Tracking Phase;
- A Blink Detection Phase.
The evolution of mobile phones to Smartphone opened new horizons for the implementation of innovative types of mobile applications, like using the phone’s camera for more specialized sensing activities, such as tracking the user’s eye movement across the phone’s display as a means to activate applications.
In fact, eye gaze sensing is an important method in human computer interfacing. The eye gaze is a more natural method to interact with a device than a mouse or keyboard. Eye movement is reflective of cognitive processes and eye gaze interaction could be a convenient way for controlling mobile devices.
The methods for eye tracking can be classified into two categories: Intrusive and Non-Intrusive. Intrusive methods require direct interaction with the user. The user needs to wear head-mounted equipment resulting in discomfort and restricting their movement range. Non-Intrusive methods, instead, use images captured from a camera to estimate the gaze direction or an infrared based approach to enhance the contrast between the pupil and the iris.
In contrast to eye tracking systems for computers, mobile devices suffer from several drawbacks like: intensity of light (indoor or outdoor use), camera resolution, calibration issues (caused by head movements and mobile device movements). Eye tracking technology for interaction with mobile phones is not yet available as a stable and usable application. One reason is the lack of infrared devices for accurate eye detection. The data captured form a camera must be sufficient to understand the gaze movement. This implies the use of complex and heavy computational techniques which collide with the lack of processing power to handle video streams on these devices in real-time.
Various systems have been implemented that integrate eye tracking capabilities into a mobile phone. In a system capable of driving mobile applications using only the user’s eye movements and actions is described, while in, different approaches, in particular dwell-time method and gaze gestures, are compared in order to investigate how gaze interaction can be used to control applications on mobile phone.
Article by: Busayo Tomoh