BIOMEDICAL INNOVATION IN PUNE-S.N.A.P. EYEWRITER FOR PARALYTICS

Here’s something that might have wanted Hrithik Roshan aka Ethan Mascarenhas from Guzaarish to live another day. Well, three students from Sinhagad Institute of Technology (SIT) situated in Lonavala have developed a system which could make the mouse obsolete and come to the aid of quadriplegics and paralytics.

What’s even better, is that the gizmo they have created would cost only Rs 750 if retailed.  Nitesh Prakash, Sumit Kumar and Paras Kumar all third year Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering students of SIT,came up with this system that will use the eye as an interface to point to icons or even write on a screen. This project won them the best lab innovation prize in college as well.

How it came about
The students were inspired by Pranav Mistry who has worked on the Sixth Sense technology, which is basically a wearable gestural interface that enhances the physical world around us with digital information and uses natural hand gestures to interact with that information.

Apart from him, the students met James Powderly who promotes open source software and is an artist and engineer who has created tools for graffiti artists and political activists as also designs robots and promots open-source culture.
Powderly had showed them what he had created at IIT Powaai’s tech fest.

“His device costed him $17,000 as he had used a Sony Playstation camera. When I suggested that I could make a cheaper model, Powderly sent me the open source software I needed for the S.N.A.P Eyewriter. We purchased a locally made camera and used regular film in the eyewriter, which brought down the cost of our device,” Nitesh Prakash said.

How it works
The S.N.A.P. Eyewriter uses a spectacle to navigate the computer screen. The students used a camera, Infra Red (IR) LED transmitters, an IR filter, eyeglasses and wire for hardware. The software detects and tracks the position of an eye and uses a calibration sequence to map the tracked eye.

The Eyewriter is accompanied by eye-drawing software as well. this software creates strokes on the screen. “It is available separately, but we will also post a combined version,” they said.

According to the students’ project report, this system can be used for paralysed people, who can not move any other part of their body except for their eyes. It also has a recreational purpose, one’s gaming experience can also enhanced by replacing the mouse pointer with the eyepointer. The students have shared the code of the software. It could be sourced on  http://code.google.com/p/eyewriter.

“We are busy with a different project for our final year, but as soon as we’re done with that, we plan to start work to develop this idea further. This is just the beginning. This software can be used not only to write or draw but even to operate a wheelchair and any other robotics could also be controlled with it,” said Sumit Kumar.

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