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EyeWink: Control your smartphone with eye winks!

A project by: Davide Valeriani


WE RAISED £4,605

from 65 donors

This project received pledges on Tue 15 Dec 2015
Control your smartphone with eye winks!


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.


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!


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!


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.

We are also on Twitter (tweet us @eyewinkapp), Facebook (like us on our fancy page!), Google Plus (we may deserve to be in your circles), LinkedIn (because we are also very professional).

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 info@eyewink.net.

1 year, 7 months ago

Hi everyone,

As you all know by now, our campaign finished and we smashed our goal! And we felt that a mere "Thank you" would not be enough, so we prepared a special one to celebrate this occasion.

Thanks to everyone who pledged and/or shared this campaign, and thanks to those who donated even after we reached our minimum.

We've been very focused on improving the different parts of EyeWink and we'll be posting about our progress regularly.

The mugs and t-shirts will be on their way soon and will probably reach you before Christmas! But if they don't... be patient! We promise that they're almost there :-)

Finally, congrats to geekfre78, who was the winner of our Christmas contest and will receive this wonderful Nooka watch!

That's it for today! Merry Christmas everyone! We wish you a happy end of year and an even better beginning of 2016, which will be the EyeWink year (so start practising those winks!!)

Thanks again for everything!

Ana and Davide

1 year, 7 months ago

Hey guys,

We have put together an amazing contest for this last week of campaign. Thanks to the support received from Nooka Italia, we are running a raffle to give to every donation of at least £20 made between today and the 15th of December a chance to win an amazing Nooka watch.

Every 10 donations we will randomly choose a winner that will receive his/her prize by Christmas!

Donate now to get this very limited opportunity. And remember: the more you donate the more chances you have to win it!

1 year, 7 months ago

Hello all!

We entered the last week of our campaign, so we would like to update you about our recent achievements.

First of all, we made it! Last Sunday we ran 5k for the Santa Fun Run in Colchester. It was an amazing experience after all, especially because while we were running we got a very generous donation to our campaign. We attach a couple of pictures to convince you ;)

Our campaign is proceeding very well: we raised almost £4,000 and we hope to get another £1,000 before the end so that we can really push the development of EyeWink. For this we need your support through pledges and networking: please invite all your friends and contacts to support us in this last week.

Recently we have been interviewed by IDG Connect about EyeWink and our crowdfunding campaign: have a look at the article.

This is all for now. Thanks a lot!

Davide and Ana

1 year, 7 months ago

Hello lovely people!

We would like to update you about the progress made with our campaign.

Last week we launched a challenge: we would participate in a 5k Santa run to support the Colchester Cancer Centre if we reached our minimum goal by the 29th November. Just to give you an idea, this is what it will look like:

We are very close to our minimum target so we are getting ready for the race. Here's a little taster of how Ana looks like with the hat... And we're not showing more until we get the rest!

But we still need a last sprint of pledges to raise the £500 that separate us from the goal (and then we'll share the whole outfit with you!). So please help us: every little bit counts!

If you experience any problem in donating, please watch this step-by-step video we made.

Thanks a lot,

Ana and Davide

1 year, 8 months ago

Hello winkers!

We weren't planning to send our first update so soon, but you've been so great we couldn't wait any longer!

Thanks to your invaluable support, we raised more than £1,500 in only 3 days and we are the project that raised the most on the University of Essex's Click platform!

We are still far away from our final goal, so remember to keep advertising the campaign and supporting us. If we keep this trend of pledging, we will reach our goal by the end of the month!

Remember there are other ways to help us. We have created a short online survey that you can fill to let us know how you'd like us to develop EyeWink in the future.

Thanks a lot, people!

Davide and Ana

Alumni of the University of Essex matchfunded £1000

Ana Matran-Fernandez

generated 696 clicks and caused 12 donations totalling £830.00

Davide Valeriani

generated 846 clicks and caused 20 donations totalling £487.00

Anthony Forster

generated 239 clicks, donated, and caused 2 donations totalling £55.00


generated 152 clicks, donated, and caused 1 donation of £25.00

Matteo Dallaglio

generated 140 clicks and caused 1 donation of £10.00

Josh Gulrajani

caused 1 donation of £2.00

Ramy Khuffash

generated 269 clicks


generated 195 clicks and donated

Dario Lizzi

generated 163 clicks and donated

Marco Gardinazzi

generated 159 clicks and donated £5.00

Andrea Cusi

generated 100 clicks and donated

Chingiz Gal

generated 100 clicks and donated £300.00


generated 96 clicks and donated

Sabrina Rosati

generated 81 clicks and donated

Meo Springall

generated 80 clicks and donated

James Cannan

generated 69 clicks and donated

Riccardo Valeriani

generated 3 clicks and donated

Christina Pashialis

generated 3 clicks

Giving Tuesday

donated £426.50


donated £50.00

Anna Luisa Valeriani

donated £50.00


donated £25.00

Michele Nonelli

donated £25.00

Arles Acerbi

donated £25.00

Carlos Gomez Pilar

donated £25.00

Domenico Giaquinto

donated £25.00

Riccardo Gri

donated £10.00

Federico Magliani

donated £5.00

Fabrizio Todaro

donated £5.00

Leandro Zarate

donated £5.00

Genevieve Jackson

donated £2.00


donated £1.00


donated £1.00



Diego Berrè




Yaíza GC


Cri Pirata




Marco Iori


23 anonymous donations totalling £1399.00

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