In an invention that could go a long way in helping the disabled, students have developed a computer game that can be operated by eye movement.
The students, from Imperial College London (ICL), have developed an open source game called 'Pong', where a player uses his eye to move a bat to hit a ball as it bounces around the screen.
To play the game, the user wears special glasses containing an infrared light and a webcam that records the movement of one eye. The webcam is linked to a laptop where a computer programme syncs the player's eye movements to the game.
The prototype game is very simple but students believe that the technology behind it could be adapted to create more sophisticated games and applications such as wheelchairs and computer cursors controlled by eye movements.
“The game that they've developed is quite simple, but we think it has enormous potential, particularly because it doesn't need lots of expensive equipment… We hope it could ultimately provide entertainment options for people who have very little movement,” said Aldo Faisal, the team's supervisor from the Department of Bioengineering, ICL.
“In 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,” he said, according to an Imperial release.
One of the major benefits of the new technology is that it is inexpensive, using off-the-shelf hardware.
“Remarkably, our undergraduates have created this piece of neurotechnology using bits of kit that you can buy in a shop, such as webcams,” Faisal said.
Ian Beer, third year undergraduate from the ICL Department of Computing, said: “This game is just an early prototype, but we're really excited that from our student project we've managed to come up with something that could ultimately help people who have really limited movement.”