A Texas State faculty member is researching ways to apply the unique nature of human eye movement to computer technology.
Oleg Komogortsev, assistant professor in the College of Science and Engineering, said eye-movement behavior is unique to every individual and difficult to replicate. Komogortsev’s research is based on ocular biometrics, the practice of observing human behavior through the eyes. The results could eventually be used by governmental agencies for identification purposes and by doctors during the diagnostic process.
“My goal, with help of student researchers here at Texas State, is to develop eye tracking technology that communicates with computer systems using the human eye,” Komogortsev said.
Komogortsev said the field of ocular biometrics is in its infancy, but the potential is limitless. The research Komogortsev is developing can be used in the medical field to identify eye movements associated with concussion and traumatic brain injury patients. The research will help doctors reach a diagnosis more quickly.
Human-computer interaction is another realm in which Komogortsev’s research can be applied.
Komogortsev’s software is able to calibrate where a person’s eyes are looking on a computer screen during his video game called Balura.
During a game of Balura, users must first allow the software to record and calculate the eye movement as they watch a computer screen. The software recognizes where the user’s line of sight is directed and signals an input command so the game can be played using only the eyes.
Players are asked to pop red balloons in a field of blue balloons using their focused eyesight.
Corey Holland, computer science masters student, said the research being conducted by Komogortsev will expand a “largely unexplored” branch of the ocular biometric field. The research will advance understanding of the traits of the human visual system.
Holland won the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in June for his work in developing ocular biometrics, which Komogortsev supervised.
Komogortsev teaches computer sciences courses in addition to conducting and supervising the research. Komogortsev said a large part of his success is due to being able to “teach what he researches,” and students play a critical role in that work.
Joe Moorman, electrical engineer senior, said he was a member of a three-person design group from the College of Science and Engineering that contributed in January 2012 to Komogortsev’s research. Moorman and the design group worked to create hardware and software platforms for eye data collection and analysis at lower costs than commercially available.
Eye tracking technology can cost thousands of dollars, but the design group created iris recognition devices from $20 webcams, Komogortsev said. People who wish to use the technology only need to buy the corresponding eye tracking software, as the devices are readily available.
“Dr. Komogortsev has high expectations for those who work with him,” Moorman said. “He offers excellent opportunities to be part of an important field of research and development. I don’t graduate until May 2013, but I hope to continue to work with him after the end of the current project.”