Head-mounted displays provide hands-free access to interactive data

AUGUST 12, 2009--For car designers, secret agents in the movies, and jet fighter pilots, data eyeglasses -- also called head-mounted displays -- are everyday objects.

AUGUST 12, 2009--For car designers, secret agents in the movies, and jet fighter pilots, data eyeglasses -- also called head-mounted displays, or HMDs for short -- are everyday objects. They transport the wearer into virtual worlds or provide the user with data from the real environment. At present these devices can only display information.

"We want to make the eyeglasses bidirectional and interactive so that new areas of application can be opened up," says Michael Scholles, business unit manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS (Dresden, Germany; www.fraunhofer.de). A group of scientists at IPMS is working on a device which incorporates eye tracking; users can influence the content presented by moving their eyes or fixing on certain points in the image. Without having to use any other devices to enter instructions, the wearer can display new content, scroll through the menu or shift picture elements.

Scholles believes that the bidirectional data eyeglasses will yield advantages wherever people need to consult additional information but do not have their hands free to operate a keyboard or mouse. The Dresden-based researchers have integrated their system's eye tracker and image reproduction on a CMOS chip. This makes the HMDs small, light, easy to manufacture and inexpensive.

For more information, visit www.fraunhofer.de.

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