Eye Tracking And Head Tracking In New 3D Glasses
February 4, 2013

New 3D Glasses Offer 6D Perspective

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

3D technology has come quite a long way since the days of red and blue colored plastic lenses held in paper frames. The 3D seen now in movies and upper-end home theaters, while impressive, falls short when it comes to getting a real time and interactive 3D look at a digital image, program or virtual reality environment. Today, German company SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) has revealed a new set of lenses with 3D eye tracking technology, as well as 6D head tracking technology. These glasses not only track the wearer´s eyes and where they are focused, they can also detect which way the wearer´s head is positioned, allowing manipulation of the image to look as close to real life as possible.

SMI is presenting these new 3D + 6D glasses at this year´s Stereoscopic Displays and Applications (SD&A) trade show, which is going on this week in San Francisco, CA.

Engineers and researchers for decades have tried to marry natural sight with digital images by way of 3D. Throughout the years, technological advances have improved the technology, but the garish look of these specs remains. The SMI 3D Eye-Tracking glasses are no different. Looking like thick, black protective lenses, these glasses have two small cameras on their rim to record the wearer´s eyeballs as they watch whatever is being streamed in through the glasses. A third camera is used to capture the field of view of the wearer. SMI has partnered with Volfoni to provide a “real 3D experience [for] the wearer and full immersion into the virtual environment.” Volfoni´s ActiveEye tracking works by measuring the ways the eyes move together to “optimize the 3D experience for individual physiognomies.”

So far, these big glasses are packed with two forms of 3D eye tracking technology meant to create a realistic 3D environment. This is where things get whacky: The SMI Eye Tracking Glasses also have support for Advanced Realtime Tracking GmbH´s (A.R.T.) 6D optical targets. These targets are two sets of three white balls that attach to the glasses. When attached, they give the wearer the look of a caterpillar with three little antennas coming out from the side of their face. While they look silly for the time being, they´re able to do some outstanding things. For instance, with these targets attached, the glasses are able to detect which way the wearer is holding their head. Based on this data, the system is able to deliver an image representative of real life. In other words, just as a bowl of fruit looks different depending on how you hold your head, so too will a virtual bowl of fruit appear different depending on how the wearer is tilting their head.

These new glasses even support Microsoft´s Kinect interface.

"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,” remarked Ingmar Gutberlet, SMI´s Director of Sales and Marketing in a statement.

These glasses are about as ugly as they are powerful and, as such; they´re mostly aimed at existing virtual reality environments rather than commercial markets.

The technology inside, however, could pervade into other, more commercially viable solutions, and that´s a very cool thing indeed.