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Eye Tracking In Aircraft Simulators

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Eye Tracking In Aircraft Simulators Essay, Research Paper

A simulated flight environment for pilot

training may soon

be made

more realistic through the use

of eye-tracking

technology developed

by researchers at the University


Toronto’s Institute

of Biomedical Engineering (IMBE).

Many safety and cost benefits are obtained by


aircraft pilots under

simulated conditions, but to be effective

the simulation must

be convicingly realistic. At present, th e

training facilities

use large domes and gimballed projectors, or

an array of video screens,

to display computer-generated images.

But these installations

are very expensive and image resolution

is low. Further,

it would take an enormous amount of addi to

improve image quality

significantly throughout the whole viewed


However, based on the visual properties

of the eye,

realism can be obtained

by providing a high-resolution ‘area of

interest’ insert within

a large, low-resolution field of view.

If the

image-generating computer ‘knows’ where the


fixation is, it mage


The technology to make this possible was developed by


research team headed

by Professor Richard Frecker and Professor

Moshe Eizenman.

The work was carried out in collaboration with

CAE Electronics Ltd.

of Montreal with financial support from the

Natural Sciences and

Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Their eye-tracker can record and analyze accurately up to

500 eye positions per

second. The system works by means


capturing and processing

the reflections of a low-level beam o f

invisible infra-red

light shone onto the eye.

Multi-element arrays capture the image of the

eye and

digitize the information,

which is then processed in real time

by a fast, dedicated

signal processing unit. The difference in

position between

the ligh tre of the pupil reveals


instantaneous direction

of gaze.

Developments by the IBME team have significantly increased

the speed of signal

processing in addition to enhancing accuracy

of eye

position estimates. Eizenman believes that


improvements make our

eye-tracker very effective in monitoring

the large G-force environment

where the pilot tends to make

larger eye

movements because of contraints which exist


movements of his head”.

In a new generation of aircraft simulators,


development by CAE

Electronics Ltd. of Montreal, a head tracker

which tells the direction

of the pilot’s head is mounted on top

of the helmet.

The eye tracker is mounted on the front of the

helmet, and is ll exactly

where the pilot’s eye is fixating.

Frecker said that “successful integration

of our eye

tracker into the novel

helmet-mounted CAE flight simulator would

result in a new

generation of simulators that would likely

replace the current

large domes and cumbersome video display


Initial tests of the integrated system will be carried out

in collaboration with

CAE Electronics at Williams Air Force Base

in Arizona later this


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