Many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, can often present with symptoms of abnormal eye movements. Much research has been done in utilizing eye movement tracking technology to help with the diagnosis of these diseases and the monitoring of their progression. Traditional eye-tracking technology relies heavily on cameras, which, while accurate, are typically large and require a significant amount of electrical and computing power.
Medgadget was recently invited to attend the imec Technology Forum (ITF) conference in Antwerp, Belgium, where imec, a non-profit R&D innovation organization, unveiled a wearable device concept that integrates wireless eye-tracking technology into a standard pair of eyeglasses. The smart spectacles utilize electrooculography (EOG), a technique which measures the electrical potential across specific points on the skin around the eyes during eye movement. This is accomplished with five dry-contact electrodes on the glasses: two on the temples, two on the nose pads, and one attached to the bridge of the glasses that makes contact with the bridge of the nose. A small battery is housed in the back of one of the temples and the electronics, which include a Bluetooth antenna, are housed in the other.
We had the opportunity to try out the new glasses on the ITF demo floor. As we donned the spectacles and talked with the ITF engineers, we saw our electrooculogram being generated on the screen, accurately tracking our saccades (normal rapid eye movements) and blinks. This eye-tracking data could potentially be used to support early diagnosis of neurological diseases, track the progress of disease and response to treatments, and provide new insights about developmental disorders such as ADD and autism.
We also tried a more entertaining demo, which involved navigating a virtual maze and scrolling through a web browser only using our eyes. Imec is also seeking partners who are interested in integrating the technology for more immersive AR/VR experiences.
We were quite impressed and are looking forward to the new glasses technology being used in the diagnosis and monitoring of neurological diseases.