July 23, 2012 at 1:59 PM ET
Microsoft's Kinect game sensor may be able to track body movements and use that information to control video games, but researchers in England have created glasses that let users control a game with only the movements of their eyes.
According to a report published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, researchers at the Imperial College London are working on the device as a means of helping movement-impaired and paralyzed people interact with the world more conveniently ... and more affordably.
They demonstrated just how effective their inexpensive eye-tracking glasses could be by having patients control a game of "Pong" with the movements of their eyes. Check out the video demonstration below.
The researchers say they created the glasses using two PlayStation Eye Cameras which can be found for less than $15, cheap reading glasses frames and an elastic headband. This off-the-shelf equipment helps to drastically reduce the price of the gadget so it can be far more affordable for those who need it. The researchers use the cameras (which have been tinkered with) to track the movement of the user's two pupils as well as special software to compute where the person is looking.
But playing "Pong" isn't exactly the ultimate point. Researchers hope the device will help those with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries do things like browse the Web and type on a visual keyboard.
"Crucially, we have achieved two things," Dr. Aldo Faisal, lecturer in neurotechnology at Imperial's Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Computing, told Phys.Org. "We have built a 3-D eye tracking system hundreds of times cheaper than commercial systems and used it to build a real-time brain machine interface that allows patients to interact more smoothly and more quickly than existing invasive technologies that are tens of thousands of times more expensive."
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBCNews.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.