Turn on the TV with a Blink of an Eye

Imagine it; no more having to reach for the remote control at the other end of the sofa, nor search for it down the back of the sofa.

That could soon become reality for television watchers, allowing them to change channels or turn up the volume on their sets without moving a muscle - or at least very few of them.

That’s what’s on offer with the advent of Eye Motion TV, a ‘vision control system’ that enables anyone to take charge of their viewing with just a roll of their eye or a leisurely wink.

This new technology, demonstrated by Haier, a huge manufacturer of televisions in its native China but little-known outside it, puts this prospect firmly on the horizon.

And how does what must be the ultimate in remote controls work?

As it stands, the demonstration system requires the viewer to sit between 30 cm to 1 metre away from an eye-tracking camera, a distance that when the concept is further developed, is likely to increase to 3 metres and beyond. Sensors installed into the TV screen itself pick up on and respond to the viewer’s eye movements.

The next step is for the viewer’s eyes to be adjusted for the eye tracking unit. Once this is done, it’s possible to control an on-screen cursor that can be scrolled up and down with just a glance, and used to select items. This can be activated with a simple ‘double click’ eye movement.

However, don’t rush down to your local store thinking that you’re about to let your eyes do the clicking. This is a demonstration model only, and the company has no plans as yet to go into production with it.

Eyes aren’t the only thing that Haier has its sights set on. It’s interested in our brain waves too. Recently making its public debut was Brainwave TV, a television that monitors electrical signals captured through a headset on your scalp, enabling you to create graphics and images on a screen.

Such futuristic control systems don’t have to be confined to the realms of the living room TV. They could find other applications in our daily and professional lives where control is needed over the screen in front of us.

In fact, the Haier system has already shown itself to be just as effective when controlling documents in a regular Windows interface as it is when changing television stations. That opens up the possibility of this becoming a future aid to productivity, or an invaluable tool for those who are disabled and with limited mobility.

This new technology is already exciting much interest among both small high-tech start-ups, and large companies, so it may not be too long before you have to learn to control your blinking if you don’t want to change channels in the middle of your favourite programme.

It also conjures up the amusing but slightly disturbing picture of couples no longer arguing about who’s in control of the zapper, but duelling by eyeball instead.

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