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Playing computer games with the blink of an eye

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March 30, 2010

Imperial student demonstrates how neurotechnology works

Imperial student demonstrates how neurotechnology works

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Remember when the simple paddle game Pong generated a world-wide buzz of excitement? Those days may just have returned with the announcement that students from Imperial College London have created an interface using off-the-shelf components which tracks eye movement and enables a bespectacled user to play the game hands-free.

Under the supervision of Dr Aldo Faisal, a group of undergraduates from Imperial College London have adapted an open source version of the Atari video game Pong so that the player's paddle can be controlled using only eye movement. Gizmag has covered similar technology before of course, this time though the team at ICL used off-the-shelf components costing around US$37, rigging up an infra-red sensor and a webcam to a pair of glasses to track the movement of a player's eye and feeding the information to synchronization software on a laptop that translates it into onscreen paddle movement.

Although the developed game is quite simple by today's standards, because the technology is readily available and affordable it holds great promise for future application in devices to assist people suffering from limited movement.

"We hope to eventually make the technology available online so anyone can have a go at creating new applications and games with it and we're optimistic about where this might lead," said Dr Faisal. "We hope it could ultimately provide entertainment options for people who have very little movement. In the future, people might be able to blink to turn pages in an electronic book, or switch on their favourite song, with the roll of an eye."

The team is currently refining the technology in the hope of being able to track both eyes, perhaps enabling more complicated tasks to be undertaken by a user such as onscreen journey plotting or even control of a motorized wheelchair.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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