Smart Glasses Use Eye Tracking Via Sonar

Researchers have developed prototypes of a technology that uses sonar for tracking eye movements.

Image credits: Cheng Zhan

Prototypes of a sonar-like device have been created by Cornell University in New York, and it may eventually replace cameras for tracking eye movements. It makes use of tiny speakers that produce music at frequencies higher than 18 kHz for each eye. The majority of people cannot hear these.

Four microphones on either side of the headset receive sound that is aimed at the wearer's face, reflects it, and then records it. These sound waves are then interpreted by an algorithm known as GazeTrak, which helps the researchers discern the direction of the wearer's gaze, reports Mixed.

The research team believes that sonar technology should provide a number of benefits. When compared to camera-based systems, it uses less electricity and gives consumers greater privacy because the cameras are not continuously recording. Additionally, it might lessen the weight and production costs of VR headsets.

Sonar-based eye tracking demonstrated an accuracy of up to 3.6 degrees in tests involving 20 individuals. Compared to modern high-end gadgets like the Apple Vision Pro, this is not as accurate. But according to the experts, this performance ought to be adequate for the majority of virtual reality applications.

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As of now, the technology has one significant flaw: each user's eyeball is unique, hence the AI model employed by GazeTrak needs to be trained individually. It would take the collection of sufficient data to produce a universal model in order to market the eye-tracking sonar.

Virtual reality relies heavily on eye tracking technology, which lets you focus at certain spots on menus to navigate or make eye contact with other avatars in virtual surroundings. Right now, Apple Vision Pro is showing off how accurate eye tracking can enhance the user experience.

Additionally, eye tracking allows for rendering—such as on the Playstation VR 2—that takes into account the user's focus by displaying a precise depiction of the area being watched and a less detailed picture in the periphery. Ingenious control techniques are also made possible by technology; one example is the VR game Before Your Eyes, which you can only control with your eyes.

Sam Draper
March 13, 2024

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