Wednesday, January 08, 2003
      ( 10:26 AM ) Matt  

Gaze detection

Part of any great software is a good user interface. This proposal goes beyond what most people would consider practical. When I'm staring at a go board wondering what to do play next, I trace out some lines of play mentally. I'm sure most go players do this. I also tend to look at the intersections where the plays would be made. This too, I hope is a common practice. Now, what would be nifty is if the computer were to detect where you are looking, and compute lines of play based on your eye movements. This sort of clues might help a cyborg player come up with more helpful suggestions.

So, how would one build something like this?

There are several techniques for gaze detection. The most intuitive way to do it is the same way we do. Look at the person's pupils in relationship to the rest of the visible eye. This along with the face's orientation lets you compute where the eyes are looking. For people with dark (e.g. brown) eyes, it might be hard to distinguish the pupil from the iris. In this case the border between the white and colored part of the eye may be used. Another technique applied in the 60s is to implant a magnetic coil inside the eye and track its position with magnetic sensors. (Yuck!) Though accurate, this method is very intrusive. These days the most popular compromise is to detect the 1st and 4th Purkinje-images. These are reflections off of the front and back side of the eye's lens. A bright light (sometimes invisible infrared light) is shone into the eye at an angle so that it doesn't obscure the vision. The 1st and 4th Purkinje-images appear as bright dots on the pupil. I don't see people wanting to put on a special headset with cameras and lights just to play go, so this might not be a suitable option. However, it is possible that the reflection of the monitor or from a nearby window or other light source may be sufficient to produce the reflections. The problem with this is that these are not very predictable and might not be reliable.

To be continued...

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