Ever wonder what you’re missing when you blink? It turns out it could be a lot as it has been estimated we lose six seconds of information every minute just by blinking. This means if we sit through a 2 ½-hour movie, we will have missed 15 minutes of that film (longer if it’s Star Wars), according to University of Tokyo researchers. The good news is, we no longer have to miss those moments, thanks to some students from the University of Bremen in Germany, who have designed a wearable camera that takes pictures when we blink.
Known as Augenblick (German for blink), the camera looks like just another head-mounted imaging system, and essentially it is but instead of taking video-streams, it takes snap-shot images when a person’s eyes are momentarily closed. It accomplishes this by measuring the muscle activity around the eyes, or rather the electrical signals underneath the skin using electromyography sensors.
Those electrical signals trip the camera into recording the imagery of the user’s point of view. Those images are then strung together to form a cut-video montage of what happened while the wearer was blinking. The resulting video looks similar to the memory cut scenes taken from future criminals in the Minority Report.
The camera was created using a Raspberry Pi Camera V2 (noIR), which records at 25 FPS when triggered by MyoWare Muscle Sensors. Controlling the show is an onboard Raspberry Pi Zero, which processes the imagery and interprets the electrical signals from the sensors to trigger the camera. A status LED illuminates while the system is recording and features a button that can be used to stop recording if the need arises.
Admittedly, the Augenblick looks like a relic compared when compared to other wearable camera platforms (GoPro, MeCam, etc.) or AR headsets. That being said, it’s a great project that accomplishes what it was designed to do, and it does it very well. Those students should be proud of what they created, and I look forward to more creative projects coming from them.