QinetiQ2005-01-05 09:00:58

Lightweight eye tracking moves out of the laboratory
as QinetiQ signs commercial manufacturing deal with ASL

Following the signing of a manufacturing licensing deal with QinetiQ, Europe's largest science and technology solutions company, the first lightweight and truly portable eye tracking system is now being manufactured and commercially made available by Boston, USA-based Applied Science Laboratories (ASL), a pioneer in the examination of human eye movements and pupil dynamics.

Ideal for numerous sporting and marketing applications, the portable "Mobile Eye" headset is about the same size and weight as a pair of sunglasses and incorporates a low-powered infrared light source plus two miniature cameras to see exactly where a user is looking within their field of vision. This in turn is connected to a small, portable, high resolution DVCR-based recording device on the users' belt to capture over an hours worth of footage.

Developed from QinetiQ's research into a "Look & Fire" system for fast-jet pilots, applications for the Mobile Eye system include a host of sports training (ball and eye coordination or target recognition) and ergonomic assessments (such as how we anticipate potential hazards when driving or what catches a shopper's eye in the supermarket). Some medical training (what a surgeon concentrates on during a procedure) and education opportunities (for example how we read and anticipate a music score) also exist - along with many others.

The result of more than 30 years' optical engineering experience at QinetiQ, the Mobile Eye system is radically smaller than competitive solutions. It is also fully portable and does not restrict the user's movement, takes only minutes to calibrate to the user plus works in bright sunlight, so opening up many new uses. The availability of miniaturised components like the cameras, along with QinetiQ's development of a bespoke "intelligent mathematical algorithms" to analyse the resulting imagery on standard PCs, both help keep the price to around $20,000 (€15,500) - about half that of existing solutions.

"People can become so highly skilled at tasks they become automatic," explained Adrian Huggins, QinetiQ's business group manager responsible for the project. "The analysis of the related eye movements can help us to understand how these tasks are effortlessly achieved and with ASL taking on the manufacturing of this the first truly portable, real-time system, so many opportunities are now possible."
Under the terms of the licensing deal, ASL has global manufacturing and marketing rights for Mobile Eye through its distributors within designated commercial market sectors and QinetiQ will receive a royalty for each unit sold. QinetiQ will also continue to develop the functionality of the system along with applying it to specific applications in defence and public sector markets to help better understand behaviour traits and learning.

"The simplicity of the system design does not truly reflect the significant technological capabilities required to capture and analyse what many would consider every day applications," explained Bob Sinclair, ASL's President. "Our market analysis shows a real global market for this product, particularly from coaches for numerous sports analysis and from marketing people interested in seeing how people interact with websites or within retail environments. Because it's so light and portable, we also envisage many new markets will develop once the system's capability and availability is more widely known."

For more information contact:
Cody Technology Park
Room G069, Building A 7
Cody Technology Park, Ively Road
FARNBOROUGH
Hampshire
GU14 0LX
United Kingdom
Tel:     +44(0)8700 100 942












 


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