Waterloo Labs Makes Eye-Controlled Mario

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There's a lot going on when it comes to unique console controllers these days--Sony's Playstation Move and Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox 360 are set to launch this fall, and, of course, the Wiimote has been around forever.

But all of those controllers require that the user get up and move around. The latest in input technology puts an end to such nonsense: Waterloo Labs has come up with a way to control video games--specifically, Super Mario Bros 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment Sytem (NES) console--using only your eyes.

That's right--utilizing an eye-position-reading technique known as electro-oculography (EOG) and a custom daughter card, Waterloo Labs has figured out how to control NES with eye movement.

Waterloo Labs is a project of Austin-based tech company National Instruments, and has previously brought us such useful experiments as "Driving a Car with an iPhone," and "FPS with Real Guns."

The premise is actually pretty simple. Your eye is polarized--the back has a more negative charge than does the front, because of the high concentration of neurons on the retina. Because of this polarization, your eye creates an electrical field that will move when your eye moves.

So, in order to capture this movement, the Waterloo Labs team hooked up electrodes (they used Ambu Blue Sensor N wet electrodes) to the area around the eye of the subject--one on the outer corner of each eye, one above the left eye, and one above the right eye (as well as a ground electrode behind the left ear).

The electrodes transmit the signal to the custom daughter card, which filters and amplifies the incoming signal. The daughter card is connected to a computer (they used a National Instruments Singleboard RIO) for analysis.

After the analysis (there are preset thresholds for horizontal and vertical eye position--if the signal passes one of these thresholds, it's interpreted as a significant movement, e.g., looking too far to the left will pass the vertical threshold and be interpreted as a push of the left button), the signal goes back through the daughter card to be transmitted to the Nintendo.

Voila! Eye-controlled Nintendo!

If you think that sounded pretty simple, Waterloo Labs details all of the equipment used and the design at the National Instrument website, so you can check it out for yourself.

The only real problem, of course, is that if you look up to jump...you won't be able to see the screen.

[via Hack a Day via Procrastineering]

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