To get a realistic visual experience in the virtual world, you need to ensure the authenticity of the image, and you need to use a graphics card with powerful graphics to achieve image rendering. But not every user has a top graphics card. In order to reduce the demand for the performance of the graphics card, the fixation point rendering technology is introduced: through the image rendering of the eye fixation point, the other areas are selectively “ignored” to meet the needs of users for real images and obtain a realistic visual experience. This technology promotes the development of the virtual reality industry.
But the core of gaze rendering technology is to track the eye gaze, and this involves eye tracking technology. With the development and rise of the virtual reality industry, Aglass, which focuses on eye tracking technology, has appeared in front of practitioners many times. Its cooperative enterprises include HTC VIVE, Xiaopai, iQiyi and so on. This will inevitably give people an illusion. Is eye tracking technology only used in the field of virtual reality? The answer is obvious. In the years of development, Aglass has continued to cultivate in the medical field. How do they do it? What can eye tracking technology do in the medical field? With these questions in mind, we interviewed Huang Tongbing, the founder of Aglass.
Aglass has been studying eye tracking of fires for 11 years
As giants such as Google and Apple deploy the virtual reality industry, they continue to acquire companies with eye-tracking technology. This technology is receiving more and more attention. But it is not a technology that has only appeared in recent years. Aglass has been in this field for 11 years.
Huang Tongbing, the founder of Aglass, is currently studying for the EMBA of Tsinghua University. He graduated from Shenyang Aerospace University with a major in aircraft manufacturing. After graduation, he was mainly engaged in the construction of aircraft collaborative design platforms and participated in many national projects such as the C919 large aircraft. But after three years in the industry, with the enthusiasm for eye tracking technology, he hoped to further promote the technology in the military and civilian fields, so he chose to start a business. In 2009, he founded Aglass.
Huang Tongbing told Artery Network that eye tracking technology will be used in the helmets of fighters and other pilots. In fighters such as the US F22, the pilot is allowed to lock the target through the eyes. The study of technology enabled Huang Tongbing to apply for the invention patent of “Input System and Method Based on Machine Vision” in 2008 before starting his own business.
When he introduced financing in 2012, he met Peng Fan, who is currently the co-founder of Aglass. Peng Fan was good at computer image processing, and both of them wanted to expand the application of eye tracking technology. Aglass continues to expand the team during its development. The current team has more than 70 people, and R&D personnel occupy 2/3.
At present, the research scope of Aglass team members involves core algorithm research, artificial intelligence model training, data collection and annotation, hardware circuit structure, appearance design and other fields. Aglass’s Shenzhen factory allows it to conduct large-scale product production and testing, and to develop upper-level software applications.
In more than ten years, Aglass has accumulated patents and built its own patent barriers. As of the second quarter of 2020, Aglass has 407 patents, including 289 invention patents. The number of patents (94) of its eye tracking technology is the world’s leading. Because Qualcomm is optimistic about its development in the industry, it has invested in Aglass for three consecutive years.
Huang Tongbing said, “Although the eye-tracking technology is cool, there are very few companies that can reach the product level.” Aglass continues to achieve product launches, launching various devices and modules. At present, Aglass’s products span Android, Windows and other platforms, involving virtual reality, augmented reality headsets, mobile phones, and tablets. Aglass is also optimized for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and 845 platforms, so that virtual reality applications using mobile phones as carriers have lower latency.
The sampling rate of Aglass eye tracking technology is up to 380 frames/s. Aiming at the uniqueness of the human eye, Aglass interprets the human eye from multiple data dimensions and collects a large amount of characteristic data from pupils, eyelids, iris, etc. Huang Tongbing also said that the human eye is complex. For example, for users who wear glasses and users who have undergone eye surgery, some special data processing is required. This is also the direction of Aglass.
Start with eye movement communication aids to create diversified equipment
“In 2009, people were not familiar with eye tracking technology. Wearable devices like Google Glass (which gradually adopted eye tracking technology) actually started to appear at a later date.” At the time, Huang Tongbing said, “We focus our energy on the just-needed population. In the medical field, we have created eye movement communication aids.”
With the introduction of virtual reality equipment by major manufacturers such as Google, Aglass has also begun to lay out the field of virtual reality. Since then, with its technological accumulation, Aglass has also launched an eye tracking data product based on artificial intelligence in the field of eye tracking. At present, Aglass’s products mainly involve eye movement communication aids, virtual reality products, and eye movement analysis data products.
1 Eye movement communication aids
Eye movement communication aids mainly involve eye-control tablet all-in-one computers, head-control devices, single/binocular eye-control devices and accessories for head-control devices and eye-control devices. These equipments are produced independently by Aglass. The price of eye movement communication aids ranges from thousands to hundreds of thousands. Users can use eye movement communication aids to realize text input (and switch to voice) to express themselves, and even chat online. A user who was keen to trade in stocks before he fell ill, relied on Aglass eye movement communication aids to trade in stocks to maintain his family’s livelihood.
Eye movement communication aid operation interface
Aglass eye movement communication aids are mainly aimed at people with gradual freezing, high paraplegia, and cerebral palsy patients, and some breakthroughs have also been made. Prior to this, Aglass had completed the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission project with Xuanwu Hospital to study the use and operation of eye trackers in stroke patients. At present, Aglass is providing simplified eye movement communication aids to disabled and mobility-impaired elderly people, helping the elderly use technology to communicate or access news information.
2Virtual reality products
The virtual reality products here do not only refer to head-mounted display devices using eye tracking technology, but refer to related devices used in the medical field. For example, Aglass’s current clinical research in ophthalmology, diagnosis and post-adjuvant treatment for weak and strabismus, is achieved through the combination of VR wearable devices and eye tracking technology.
Aglass is also launching some experiments. For example, to detect changes in the size of the pupil of the eye and improve the comfort during the process of fitting glasses, related researches have been published. This is all based on the use of Aglass eye tracking technology, which is carried out on a device that is almost the same as ordinary glasses.
3 Eye Movement Analysis Data Products
The data products of eye movement analysis are realized based on big data analysis of past eye movement data. Through eye movement data analysis, the user’s psychological behavior changes can be obtained. Aglass is combining it with clinical medicine to conduct research on the cognitive behavior of adults and children. In the future, Aglass will focus more on the early diagnosis of ADHD and autism.
Aglass is currently cooperating with Ping An and the Spanish startup Braingaze for ADHD (ADHD), hoping to provide convenient and accurate diagnostic solutions. The project is in contact with a well-known university research team. In the future, the Spanish team will use Aglass’s eye tracking technology to promote this solution system in the treatment of special disease syndromes in China.
The application created by the Spanish team is used for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD
Layout the global market and expand non-contact medical applications
Aglass tries to become an international company. It not only targets the domestic market, but also values its performance in the international market. Aglass products are mainly exported to Russia, Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan, etc. For Japan, it launched a unique communication aid product for the elderly.
Huang Tongbing said that Aglass can provide differentiated solutions, not only can provide finished equipment, but also provide chip-level eye tracking technology. This allows manufacturers to choose according to their needs. Compared to Tobii, an eye-tracking technology company acquired by Apple, Aglass believes that its technology platform is more open. Compared with foreign manufacturers, Aglass has a geographical advantage in domestic projects and can respond more quickly.
Aglass is currently planning B+ round of financing. This round of financing plan is used to achieve product production landing. In the future, Aglass plans to work on projects such as autism and ADHD. Aglass believes that its technology can help patients diagnose in a timely manner, and transform the past medical methods that relied on experience and perception into accurate measurement and diagnosis through instruments, helping doctors assist in diagnosis and treatment.
Huang Tongbing believes that eye tracking technology belongs to the field of human-computer interaction, and that the application of this technology in the medical field can solve many problems. For example, in the face of infectious diseases such as new coronary pneumonia, non-contact of medical equipment is allowed. Doctors only need to use eye tracking technology to operate the device without contact, reducing the chance of infection. And this will also be Aglass’s next exploration direction.