Smart glasses are currently attracting considerable interest. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Organics, Materials and Electronic Devices (COMEDD) have developed their own eye-controlled OLED data glasses, which offer an innovative approach to selecting and displaying digital information.
|Application scenario: interactive OLED data glasses may support qualified persons at work with additional information.|
© Fraunhofer COMEDD
The bidirectional OLED microdisplay used in the Fraunhofer data glasses enables users to view the real world while simultaneously browsing a wealth of virtual information and flipping through pages using nothing but their eyes.
Thanks to special software, the data glasses are entirely eye-controlled: The camera sensors integrated into the OLED screen register the direction of the wearer's eye movements and an image processing program calculates the exact position of their pupils in real time.
The researchers have also incorporated an infrared light source in the glass frame to produce accurate positioning results even in low light. This light is completely invisible to the human eye, so there is no risk of disturbing the wearer of the data glasses in his or her work.
|OLED-on-Silicon microdisplay with eyetracking system. |
© Fraunhofer COMEDD
The Fraunhofer smart glasses are perfect for jobs that require the use of both hands with simultaneous access to information. They are a particularly useful tool for medical professionals and assembly technicians, allowing the wearer to browse surgical planning data or construction plans, for example.
The glasses can even help make everyday life easier, enabling elderly and physically disabled people to attract attention in difficult situations using nothing but their eyes – or simply providing a means of changing the TV channel using specific eye movements.
With the goal of boosting efforts to identify applications for augmented reality systems, Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched a joint research project in which Fraunhofer is participating. The key focus of the project is to find ways of supporting physical tasks and functions through "hands-free applications in augmented reality" (abbreviated to FAIR).
The Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, which is working on the development team in partnership with Fraunhofer COMEDD, is developing the technology required to track the direction of the wearer's eye movements, while tech firm Trivisio Prototyping GmbH is responsible for the design.
In June 2012, the data glasses won the Best in Show award at the world's leading display conference SID in Boston, USA. The team of researchers also picked up the Innovation Award IT 2013 in the Hardware category at CeBIT 2013. The first potential customers are already experimenting with the smart glasses to analyse what opportunities they might offer in the fields of industry, production, medicine and security.