We need £10,000 to develop EyeWink, a wearable device that connects to your smartphone and allows you to control it with eye winks! We would like to change the way in which we interact with the technology, also helping people with disabilities to communicate and act on the world. We have already developed a first working version of EyeWink, but we are raising money to make it wearable and ready for the market.
WHAT IS EYEWINK?
EyeWink is a wearable device that allows users to control the smartphone with their eyes. It improves the entire user experience by being hands- and voice-free. This means that you do not need to see the smartphone or hold it in front of you to operate it. Winkers can then remain focused on other activities while they are operating their smartphones, improving productivity and reducing stress!
EyeWink is customisable through a smartphone app that allows you to select which command you would like to perform with each eye. For example, you can choose to play/pause the selected playlist on the music player by winking with the left eye and skipping the current song by winking with the right one.
EyeWink is also designed for people with severe mobility impairments to help them to use the smartphone that, otherwise, they could not use. Therefore, EyeWink could also be used for assisted living technologies: for example, in case of need a person with no hand control can use the smartphone to call the carer by just winking with one eye.
Our vision is to create a new way to engage with technology and change communication. We would like to create an interface that can be applied to many different contexts (apart from the smartphone) and simplify people's lives. For example, EyeWink technology can be used to change the slides in a presentation or to control a robotic wheelchair to help people with disabilities to move around.
By donating to this project, you will join us in revolutionising the way we communicate with our devices. You will help us make the existing EyeWink prototype wearable and ready for mass production. You will also support us in making an affordable, high-quality device available to everyone. Without your help, we won't have the necessary resources to make this change happen!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The device is equipped with two electrodes that detect the muscular activity around the eyes. These are placed either above the eyebrows or on the corner of the eyes, and will be fully integrated with the wearable device and invisible to the user. The technology used is similar to that used for EEG and, therefore, totally safe and non-invasive.
Data registered from the electrodes are sent to the smartphone, where our algorithms extract information regarding the occurrence (or not) of eye winks. Each eye wink is then converted to the command specified by the user through the app.
We are Davide and Ana, two PhD students in Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at Essex. Our main goal is to extract meaningful information from EEG signals that we can then apply to various contexts. For example, Davide uses this in group decision-making to detect how confident was a user in a particular decision, while Ana uses it to establish if the user has seen (and where) a target in a particular image to help improve triage systems.
Moreover, we love to challenge ourselves by applying BCIs to many other contexts, including games. Some months ago we created a team at Essex to participate in Cybathlon, the first international championship for athletes with disabilities helped by the technology. We want to apply what we do everyday to technologies that can improve people's lives.
The story of EyeWink begins back in March 2015, when we were invited to attend HackTheBrain UK, the first hackathon dedicated to the development of new devices and applications that enhance, expand and augment the mind and the senses. In order to start, we had to pitch an idea for a project to be developed in the two days that the event lasted. Davide came out with the idea of a portable EEG device that connects to the smartphone and allows the user to control it with just thoughts! The proposal was one of the most voted and, therefore, we grouped with other two participants and started working on the project.
We spent the first day struggling with the hardware (OpenBCI) and only then we realised its limitations in the communication with the smartphone. We also understood that the initial idea was too ambitious to be implemented in less than two days. Therefore, we changed our plan to use eye winks instead of thoughts to control the smartphone. In less than 8 hours, we created the first working prototype that was able to detect winks and filter out blinks. The data were processed on a laptop and streamed to the smartphone, where an app we created that day allowed the user to configure the device.
At the end of the second day, we presented our prototype (called WinkIt) to the other participants and to the judging panel. Our project convinced the judges and won the London Science Museum Award!
We were invited to the London Science Museum to showcase our project during the exhibition "You Have Been Upgraded" that took place the week after the hackathon. More than 3000 people visited the exhibition and most of those we talked to were very excited about the idea of controlling the smartphone with eye winks. This convinced us to continue developing EyeWink in the next months.
In the past few months, we have worked to replace the hardware of the prototype with a more affordable board designed by us specifically for EyeWink. Moreover, we advertised EyeWink in many ways: we created the official EyeWink website, presented the technology behind it in an academic conference (CEEC'15) and in various blogs (e.g., Christine Michaelis, OpenBCI).
However, we need your help to really boost the development of EyeWink and bring it to the market!
EYEWINK in the news
In June 2015, we were interviewed by Lauren Hall from ITV News to talk about the research behind EyeWink. Our interview can be found here and the video we recorded is below.
Where will the money go?
In order to continue the development, we need to hire a consultant to design the product and make it appealing, and buy the hardware and equipment we need for completing the new version of the device. For these two goals we need a minimum of £3,000.
Our main goal, however, is to raise £10,000 in order to really boost the development of EyeWink directly for mass production. We will use the money to cover the following costs:
- £2,000 for hiring a consultant to design the wearable device
- £2,000 for hardware equipment for development and further research, including a 3D printer with which we can self-produce different EyeWink electrode models in order to investigate which shapes are most comfortable for users
- £500 for launching the product to the market and advertise it
- £3,600 for producing the first batch of devices to sell on the market
- £900 to register the company and administrative overhead (e.g., hiring an accountant)
- £1,000 for software development (e.g., creating the iOS version of the EyeWink app)
Any extra money (e.g., if you are so generous and donate more than our target) will allow us to produce more devices in the first batch and further reduce the end-user price.
We also want to build a community behind EyeWink. This is why we will keep you updated on the progress of the campaign weekly. Moreover, we will use our social media to publicly thank every supporter. Also, every supporter will have the chance to send us their pictures winking to be featured in a thank you video at the end of this campaign. You will forever be in our hearts!
Apart from our infinite gratitude to our supporters, we will also provide incredible rewards to thank everyone who donates even more. Check them out on the sidebar!
HOW TO FIND US?
Almost everywhere, as EyeWink is very social ;-)
The main hub of information is our website eyewink.net, where you can also subscribe to our newsletter to remain updated on our progress.
Join our community on the social media to be a complete winker!
Help us succeed!
There are many different ways in which you can help us to reach our goal!
The first and most important is to sponsor us. You will help us take a big step in the development of the device to bring it to the market. Every little bit counts! Please support us and be part to the revolution!
Another invaluable action to help us is to share this campaign with anyone you think would be interested and happy to support us. It doesn't really matter if you use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, emails, WhatsApp, telephone or smoke signals. You will help us by letting people know about EyeWink and, indirectly, you will have an active role in our success!
You can also give us some feedback about EyeWink by filling this 5-minute online survey. Your views are very important for us to design our product based on your requirements. If the survey is too restrictive for you to elaborate, feel free to drop us an email with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.