Eye tracking - coming to a device near you
Infrared LEDs with modern camera sensors make eye-tracking suitable for consumer applications, says Osram Opto Semiconductors
Because we mainly use vision to navigate our environment, our eyes speak volumes about what’s happening in our minds. For instance, they can tell a device what we are focusing on and how we’re responding.
Eye tracking has been used in specialised systems for decades e.g. allowing paralysed patients to operate wheelchairs and communication tools.Also for consumer behaviour research. Such systems register an observer’s point of gaze as well as his or her eye movements. The systems illuminate the eyes with infrared light and register the reflections with a camera sensor. Software determines the position of the pupils and the direction of gaze.
Until recently, they have been too expensive, complex and space consuming to make their way into the mass market. Now, with the development of extremely compact but powerful infrared LEDs (IRED), developers can integrate eye tracking technology into consumer products, says Osram Opto Semiconductors.
Smartphones and tablets with eye-tracking functionality have already been demonstrated. The benefits of the technology however become most apparent in applications where fast reaction times are key or in which an organic interaction adds to the user experience – such as gaming or virtual and augmented reality.
Osram has recently announced the IRED Synios series SFH 4770 and SFH 4771 for these applications. They have a footprint of 2.75 mm x 2.00 mm x 0.6 mm. Both products operate with a wavelength of 850 nm and can be used for applications in which the device is used in close range to the user. For this application field a low power class is sufficient, making the technology extremely energy efficient.