Wearable Tech World Feature Article
February 05, 2013

Germany's SMI Creates First Set of 3D Glasses with Eye Tracking via ActiveEye Technology

The hype surrounding 3D television was so big it had to be perfect to meet any consumer’s expectations, and so far viewers are rather unimpressed. Whether it’s the technology or the limited content, the attitude seems to be “wait and see.”

3D technology has several things going against it, and one of them is the glasses used to watch the set. The effect you get depends on the technology you use, as well as where you sit and how still you are when you watch the set. To overcome this and other obstacles associated with 3D glasses, Germany’s SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) has created the first set of 3D glasses with full eye tracking capability.

The hope is this will allow the viewer to view the set from any angle and still experience a more realistic three-dimensional image.

Currently there two types of glasses used to watch 3D content. The passive polarized glasses are lighter and cheaper, and to get the best effect you have to be in the center of the TV set. The active shutter glasses are battery-powered and heavier, but they offer better 3D effects from different angles.

Both technologies also start degrading as the viewing angle increase.

The tracking is made possible by two small cameras on the outer rim of the glasses, and a third camera that captures the field of view from the user’s perspective. While the application can be used for viewing TV, most users are excited about possible gaming applications in the pipeline for this technology.

SMI uses what it calls ActiveEye technology combined with eye tracking to give the viewer the best possible 3D experience. Along with the 3D eye tracking, the glasses also have what is called 6D head tracking. The 6D is used to detect where the viewer is looking when the head is being turned.

The glasses use the active shutter technology made by Volfoni, and Advanced Realtime Tracking GmbH (ART) provides the optical targets placed on the glasses to measure the movements of the wearer.

The combination of these technologies optimizes the 3D experience for individual physical characteristics by detecting the eye distance of the person wearing the glasses by measuring eye vergence.

"This trend-setting development achieved in close collaboration with our partners will help to advance user experience testing in virtual spaces prior to realization of cost-intensive projects. Moreover, eye control with real 3D experience will add another level of entertainment to consumer applications such as video games," said Ingmar Gutberlet, Director of Sales & Marketing, SensoMotoric Instruments.

The company’s iView X Hi-Speed system brings together ultra-fast and extremely accurate tracking with high-resolution cameras to create this technology, which was initially used by neuroscience researchers to help analyze how the human brain processes visual information, so they could develop better ways of diagnosing diseases associated with degenerative brain disorders.

Today, eye tracking is used to monitor the condition of drivers in vehicles, sports training, performance enhancement and marketing for product research.

Edited by Braden Becker

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