Hands-free VR interface monitors facial expressions

April 26, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Researchers from Samsung's C-Lab (Creative Lab) have devised an experimental, hands-free VR interface dubbed FaceSense, which tracks the user's facial movements for natural navigation into virtual reality worlds.

Their prototype, designed for Samsung’s Gear VR headset, integrates a number of inward-facing electrodes at the periphery of the VR goggle that come in direct contact with the wearer's skin. Those electrodes record the tiny electric signals generated by the wearers' facial muscles as they speak, change their expression or shift their gaze. The interface then translates the electro-oculogram (EOG) and electro-myogram (EMG) generated into input for navigation, allowing users to manoeuver through VR worlds with intuitive movements and simple voice commands, rather than reaching for out-of-sight physical controls. The technology not only registers movement in the user’s eyes and facial muscles, but it is also capable of recognizing simple voice commands (even when pronounced silently).

The Samsung employees behind FaceSense showcased their C-Lab project at VRLA Expo 2017, the world’s largest virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) exhibition, held from April 14-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.

They hope the FaceSense’s intuitive controls will open the door for more users to experience immersive VR, including those with various usage impediments.

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