The latest version of their software, faceLABTM heralds a breakthrough in technology that can track face and gaze direction as well as eyelid closure.

While the automotive industry has played a major role in supporting the technology, the software could be modified for operators of heavy machinery and others where human fatigue is life threatening. 

faceLABTM was developed by Dr Alex Zelinsky, a professor from the systems engineering department at the Australian National University and now Chief Executive Officer of Seeing Machines Pty Ltd.

Developed as a software-based video tracking system to analyse where drivers were looking, the system can detect where the head and eyes are directed. Two video cameras mounted on the dashboard capture images of the driver and analyse them with facial feature recognition software.

The system does not use infrared light for tracking as illumination from the sun and reflections from spectacles can cause problems with infrared tracking systems. Seeing Machines eliminates these problems by using image-processing software.

The processing software recognises thirty-two different features of the face. Information from the two cameras is used to assign coordinates to each feature, and those numbers can be analysed to work out the position of the head. The direction of the driver’s gaze is determined by both the position of the head and the position of the eye’s iris.

The system may help to detect when drivers are over-loaded with information, from their own eyes and from auditory and visual cues, and come to their rescue.

With future technology developments, Seeing Machines will potentially be used in computing, communications, virtual reality, animation and defence.

Seeing Machines is participating in the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ‘Save-IT’ program that aims to develop viable systems to prevent crashes caused by driver distraction. Seeing Machines is in partnership with a consortium that includes Delphi, General Motors and Ford.

Seeing Machines has won numerous Australian and international awards. The company was selected as a Technology Pioneer for the 2003 World Economic Forum and took out first prize in the Innovation Software Awards at the iAwards as part of CeBIT Australia in Sydney this year.

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