Students Staff

11 May 2015

It’s all in a wink…or a blink

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 10:04 am
Ana Matran-Fernandez  working on the Cybathlon challenge

Ana Matran-Fernandez working on the Cybathlon challenge

Could we control our smartphones in the future with a simple wink or blink? Well this is the challenge being taken on by students at the University of Essex.

PhD students Davide Valeriani and Ana Matran-Fernandez recently took part in Hack the Brain, the first UK Hackathon dedicated to projects related to the brain and won with their EyeWink project.

The Essex duo, who are part of the University’s Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) group, together with two other participants, led the winning team which in just eight hours built a working prototype which linked up eyebrow movements to controlling a phone, via an EEG-measuring device and a computer.

“We were really proud that in such a short space of time our team had a good idea and a fully working prototype,” explained Ana.

Following the success at Hack the Brain, Davide and Ana are now hoping to develop the project into a wearable wireless device (EyeWink) which can be used for a wide range of ways to control a smartphone using combinations of winks and blinks – from changing a song while running to locating a missing phone.

EyeWink will allow users to control their phones without their hands. In the future, Davide and Ana would like to develop it for people with mobility issues, such as those who have locked-in syndrome.

The Essex BCI group, which is in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, is also taking part in the international 2016 Cybathlon championship in Zurich. Cybathlon is a tournament for parathletes who will compete in six races with the aid of human performance-enhancing technology.

One of these races involves brain-computer interfaces and the Essex Brainstormers team will be among 48 teams taking part where they will battle it out control an avatar in a race by capturing brain signals and turning them into commands.

 

 

 

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