Eye of Horus is an open source platform to control any device just looking at them. The project (hardware & software) was built from scratch during the Space Apps Zaragoza to solve the Space Wearables challenge. This device could help engineers from NASA and astronauts on their tasks. The system combines eye tracking with a frontal camera to know where you are looking. The target devices are identified using light beacons (similar to LiFi technology) and controlled with wireless protocols.
This project is solving the Space Wearables: Designing for Today’s Launch & Research Stars challenge
Interacting with objects just looking at them has always been a dream for humans.
NASA engineers doing lab and field work often need to operate with computers and other tools but in some situations, this interaction is not easy and may cause them to interrupt their activities. The absence of gravity hinders the mobility of the astronauts inside the station and may affect their work and safety. We accepted the Space Apps challenge for creating a wearable accessory that could help people interacting with computers, electronic devices and also everyday things just looking at them.
- Challenge: The challenge is to design and build a wearable accessory that could be useful for the NASA ground engineers and also astronauts in their lab or field activities. The device would facilitate their work through a natural interface so they can do different things without using their hands. Thanks to it, they will be able, for instance, to interact with a distant control panel just looking at it.
- Wearables: Wearable refers to the set of electronic devices which are incorporated in any part of our body that continuously interacts with the user and other devices in order to perform a specific function. Smart watches, sports shoes built-in with GPS and bracelets that monitor our health are examples of this technology which is increasingly present in our lives. One of the best-known wearables is Google Glass. Our device could be designed as an accessory to use with Google Glass to simplify the hardware and reduce its costs.
- 3D printing: The device must be durable and made from a non-brittle material. Due to this, we have decided to make it using 3D printers. This technology is cheap and easy to build so the device could be replicated worldwide or even in the space. NASA engineers could improve the device in their labs in a minute and astronauts could produce or fix it using the 3D printers at the station.
- Open Source: We believe open knowledge is contributing to a better world and Eye of Horus is designed as an open-source platform, both hardware, and software. The schematics and the implemented software can be found in the project Github repository, allowing people to modify, improve and redistribute their contributions.
- Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing trend that extends internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets to a diverse range of devices and everyday objects. This revolution increases the possibilities of the Eye of Horus allowing you to control the light level of your kitchen or turning on the coffee machine just using your vision. Therefore, the device must have built-in wireless capabilities, which is the base of IoT.
- Low-Cost Solution: We have developed a simple and low-cost solution to detect and identify the objects in our surrounding. Infrared LEDs are used as light beacons (similar to LiFi technology) emitting different frequency pulses for each device (PC, camera, TV, microwave…). The frontal camera of our dispositive detects this light, differentiating and communicating the objects when you look at them.
Eye of Horus lets you interact with devices and objects just looking at them. The main application in the current challenge is to improve the work and safety of the NASA ground engineers and astronauts but this device could also make common people’s lives easier:
- -Disability. People with functional diversity or who is hospitalized could use it to perform tasks which would be impossible due to their reduced mobility.
- -Driving safety and control. Thanks to our device, drivers could interact with the radio or car phone with both hands on the wheel. Their eyes could be also monitored to detect drowsiness or lack of attention on the road and prevent a potential accident.
- -Entertainment. It could be used as an eye-controlled mouse to play video games and position the targets just looking at them.
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Inspired by the ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and good health that shares the same name, the project (both the hardware and the software) was built from scratch during the Space Apps Zaragoza to solve the Space Wearables Challenge as a part of the NASA-sponsored competition.
“NASA engineers doing lab and field work often need to operate with computers and other tools but in some situations, this interaction is not easy and may cause them to interrupt their activities,” said the project creators.
“The absence of gravity hinders the mobility of the astronauts inside the station and may affect their work and safety. We accepted the Space Apps challenge for creating a wearable accessory that could help people interacting with computers, electronic devices and also everyday things just looking at them.”
In addition to aiding astronauts during space exploration missions, the technology can also be used to assist many lives on Earth. Among others include those with disabilities that affect mobility, drivers who would otherwise interact with instruments while driving and as an eye-controlled cursor for a variety of digital applications including video games and design software.
“The most important part of this project is the viability and profitability. We believe this project is highly sustainable. We can create a crowdfunding campaign using all the documentation,” said team member Jose Luis Berrocal.
“We have succeeded in 48 hours a functional prototype to show our system. It is easy to build, cheap and technological.”
Open Source Eye Assistance
The Left Eye of Horus
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Omega Ophthalmics is an eye implant platform with the power of continuous AR
Google and other tech companies have come up with glasses and contact lenses for the purposes of AR, but Omega Ophthalmics is taking a much more invasive approach by using surgically implanted lenses to create a space for augmented reality inside the eye.
It sounds wild, but lens implants aren’t a new thing. Implanted lenses are commonly used as a solve for cataracts and other degenerative diseases mostly affecting senior citizens; about 3.6 million patients in the U.S. get some sort of procedure for the disease every year.
Cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a thin artificial type of lens. Co-founder and board-certified ophthalmologist Gary Wortz saw an opportunity here to offer not just a lens but a platform to which other manufacturers could add different interactive sensors, drug delivery devices and the inclusion of AR/VR integration.
“We’re creating the glove,” Wortz says, comparing it to what Elon Musk wants to do with neural lace inside the brain. “Inside of the eye, we are creating this biologically inert space that is going to stay open for business for whoever wants to develop an implant that will sort of fit hand-in-glove.”
Though, he doesn’t expect young people with good vision to come running for AR implants anytime soon. Instead, he thinks his platform has a much broader application for 70-somethings wanting to maintain independence. An augmented map to help this person get around or to alert them if something is wrong medically would be useful.
He also mentioned the usefulness to “super soldiers” and others.
“We know there’s a huge market for AR; this is essentially a real estate play that tech companies don’t realize yet,” his co-founder and CEO Rick Ifland told me over the phone.
The company is not looking for any outside investments for the idea at this time — though Wortz and Ifland mentioned they’d been approached by two major VC firms in New York and Orange County. However, Omega has already taken initial capital from angel investors and ophthalmologists “that understand the space.” Wortz said.
Does the technology work? Maybe. So far, Omega has hit the six-month mark with no incidents on a very small human clinical trial outside of the U.S. involving seven patients. I’m told the company also has a few other yet to be released studies in the works, including a much larger human trial it plans to launch soon.
The company must still wait for FDA approval and is hopeful Ophthalmics will receive approval in Europe in the next 12 to 24 months, pending the outcome of the larger trial. Wortz seemed positive about the process with the FDA, as well.
“We’re very excited about Scott Gotlieb at the FDA. He seems very pro device,” he said.