The camera that lets you take pictures with your eye

[From FotoRater; more details follow below]

The camera that lets you take pictures with your eye

by Marc Cameron on Jun 27, 2012

Steven Spielberg’s superior dystopian thriller Minority Report is famous for showcasing a number of future technologies that are now either a reality or close to being one, including multi-touch interfaces, retina scanners and customised advertising boards. It’s made the previously unthinkable a real possibility, which is why we’re excited about the arrival of the Minority Report-esque IRIS – an eye-controlled camera. Could it also become a reality? We wouldn’t bet against it!

Designed by Royal College of Art student Mimi Zou, the IRIS camera will be controlled by its owner’s eye, understanding the image they want to capture by tracking their eyeball. It’s a fascinating and timely technological proposal, which not only seems plausible because of current developments in the world of technology but, similar to Google’s Project Glass, would satisfy the current demand for lighter, smaller technology products consumers can use while on the move.

“With this project I hoped to bring about a refreshing new product experience, and challenge the existing interaction, typology and capabilities of cameras,” says Zou.

Compact and circular in shape, the IRIS looks like the perfect camera for photography fans who like to travel light. And more than being a futuristic concept, a working prototype of IRIS will be in demonstration as part of the Royal College of Art Graduate Show, from now until the 1st of July.

[More about this from DeZeen Screen, where the post includes a 1:57 minute video and more pictures]

Iris by Mimi Zou
at Show RCA 2012

21 June 2012

The Iris camera uses biometric technology to identify people by looking at their unique iris signatures. If the user’s iris is recognised, the camera will automatically load their preferred settings – including aperture, ISO and screen display.

As the user looks through the lens, they can zoom in and out by narrowing or widening their eyelids. To take the photo, they simply hold their gaze and double blink.

Once the photo is taken, biometric technology also recognises the subject’s iris and offers to tag them. Photographers and their friends have to register their biometric information to access these features, but they can also opt out of being tagged in photos.

The camera works for both stills and moving images, and it can upload files instantly through a WiFi connection or store them on an SD card inside until a connection is reached.

The images and movie above show a possible design for the camera. Zou previewed a working model of the technology at Show RCA 2012, the graduate show at London’s Royal College of Art. She has just completed the college’s Innovation Design Engineering course.

In April we published a feature about how technology and design will intertwine with our daily lives in the future.

Here’s more from Mimi Zou:

Project description
Iris is a biometrics enabled camera controlled by your eye. It understands who you are by looking at your iris signature, and lets you capture exactly what you see by tracking your eye.

With this project I hoped to bring about a refreshing new product experience, and challenge the existing interaction, typology and capabilities of cameras.

Project background
When products understand our biometric signature, ownership becomes obsolete. How might we utilize our unique identities for new product experiences?

This project explores the impact of this proposition on our interactions with, the industrial design of, and the future capabilities of consumer electronic products. Here I envision a future where we are finally identified by who we are instead of what we carry, where products serve as extensions of our bodies, and intelligent objects offer better experiences by understanding who we are.

Our irides are individually unique, and Iris recognizes the user by looking at their iris signature when it is picked up. If the user is recognized, his or her preferred settings (or default, if opted) are instantly downloaded. These include aperture, iso, cloud account link, screen display and more. The entire recognition and preference download process should take no more than one second, and the camera is ready to shoot.

Iris looks at the user while they look at the world, and tracks the user’s eye in order to understand what he or she sees, how they see, and their commands. I’ve mapped out an eye interface to achieve the tasks of photo-taking, and designed the digital interface to respond:
hold gaze to set focus
» naturally widen or narrow eyelids to zoom
» double blink to take photo
» hold gaze at peripheral menu items to adjust (eg increase aperture temporarily)
These actions are designed by studying our eye’s natural behavior in seeing. We look for longer periods at points of interest, naturally open and close our eyes slightly when looking near and far (in combination with dilation of the pupil), and blink only 5 to 6 times a minute, making double blinking a definitively intentional act to detect.

Eye shutter
In taking a photo, the first time a user blinks Iris begins storing cache. If the user blinks again within 2 seconds, the camera retracts to the first photo stored and sends that one. In this case eye control creates the most real-time image of any camera with a mechanical shutter – there is no delay between the moment we wish to capture and the moment our finger is pressed.

Photo, video, formats
The camera works for both photo and video, and could stream contents instantly via WiFi or stored on the local SD card until WiFi connection is reached. Because the camera is round and equipped with a round image sensor, Iris could also be held in any orientation and capture images of any ratio or shape, as specified by the user. This could be particularly useful in converting from still image ratio 4:3 to moving image ratio of 16:9, the camera could also capture entirely round images all together, to be cropped or kept as is later.

Data storage
If a user is registered and recognized, his content will be sent to their specified location or a unique folder will be created with their name on SD, otherwise contents are sent to a “general” location.

Users selectively enroll their iris biometric information in order to experience the full benefits of Iris. By registering, they are not opening their identities for theft, but rather to the most personalize product experience possible, which is tailored for them, and only accessible for them. People in photos are identified by their iris signature, but much like using Iris, if they could be identified, they have chosen to release that information in their preferences. If a person is not registered or have opted not to be taggable in other people’s photos, they will not be tagged.

In maintaining such a database, I have proposed the establishment of a not-for-profit data bank of biometric information. This “trust” will act as the custodian of user’s biometric information, and economically self-sustains while keeping access free of charge for users of IRIS.


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