ECTtracker (EyeComTec Tracker) is an eye-tracking program that works in conjunction with applications to capture video and control programs. Based on the state of the eye (open, closed, one eye opened) it transmits the control key codes to the receiver program. Thus the user can run the program and type the text by opening and closing the eyes. Requires no installation and has flexible configuration options.
ECTtracker (EyeComTec Tracker) – is eye-tracking software, which allows identifying the current state of the eyes of the user (open or closed). This software can be used in conjunction with different video-capturing applications for web-cameras or other devices connected to PC (e.g. ECTcamera, Skype, Media Player). ECTtracker assigns different states of the user's eyes with selected key codes, which can be transmitted to any other controlling application (ECTkeyboard, ECTmorse and many others). This program is really flexible and adjustable, as well as portative and can be personalized for any specific user and performance characteristics of the computer. In fact, ECTtracker is an alternative way of smart computer vision realization.
Unlike many other programs with similar functionality, ECTtracker analyzes images using the special Matrix of Samples, which is unique for any specific user and environment (camera position, illumination conditions, etc.). The program can be used by both fully paralyzed patients and those who suffer from uncontrollable muscular activity (tremors, tics). ECTtracker provides assured tracking of the current state of the eye even for those patients with physical damages of the face - injuries, burns or post-operative states.
The program is really flexible and customizable. The user can set the image recognition structure, the matching level between images and samples, the video processing speed (in frames per second), idle time for cases when there's no image and key codes to be transmitted into third-party controlling applications. The software contains more than 50 different parameters, which can be used to change the appearance and functionality of ECTtracker. Some parameters allow the user to lower computing requirements, providing stable work even on computers with low performance levels.
ECTtracker has a really convenient interface and reach functionality for proper and precise setting and debugging procedures. The initial setting procedure is really easy due to the auto-calibration feature. Furthermore, ECTtracker supports various localizations, allowing patients to use software in their own native language.
ECTtracker is a highly practical and convenient application due to its ability to adapt to the physical condition of the user, and different environments and computer system resources. A flexible setting process and unlimited amount of user accounts makes it possible to use the application in all conditions.
All main elements of the interface and an example of their positioning are shown on fig. 1.
The standard interface of ECTtracker Pro without the settings window of the program is shown on the image. The numbered figures show:
- 1 – the main window of ECTtracker, which shows the processed part of the image, the recognition structure and statistic fields;
- 2 – the grab-form, or so-called "target window", which allows the application to capture a part of the image for analysis.
- 3 – the window of ECTcamera which is used to capture the image.
- 4 – the Matrix of Samples – a special table of ECTtracker applications, which contains small sample snapshots with eyes of the user in different states (both eyes open or closed, or only one eye open). The program supports samples and recognition structures for one or both eyes. During its operation, the software compares samples and the current image, thus identifying the current state of the eyes.
- 5 – the channel intensity window. In this window channels, which have the highest value changes for different images, are shown as a red and higher diagram.
- 6 – the debug window with graphical stripe indicators. By changing the color of the stripe, software clearly shows which row in the Matrix of Samples corresponds with the acquired image. This window is used during the initial setting of ECTtracker and during the determination of tracking quality;
- PRO7 – the SCO9 window, which shows the intensity level of changes of each point of the recognition structure. This window is intended for more advanced users, who can edit the recognition structure file.
- PRO8 – the program log, which contains information about all the important actions and events. The log contains the date and time of tracking start and stop, the structure selection and some other data. All the information can be exported as a text file.
More detailed information about elements 4-8 can be found in the Debugging elements section of this manual.
Advantages of using of ECTtracker
In comparison with software products of other companies with similar functionality, ECTtracker has a range of significant advantages:
- the adaptation of the program to specific needs of the physical condition of each individual user. ECTtracker can work with both fully paralyzed patients and patients with various disorders of motor activity.
- the complete trainability. The program allows the user to work in virtually any environment: camera position, lighting, user's position. ECTtracker tracks the user's eye state by comparing it with saved samples, providing a high quality of tracking and stable operation.
- The wide range of different algorithms. The program involves not only an RGB color system for image analysis, but an HSL system too, which is more similar to human vision. The user can select the priority level for each of the channels, thus increasing the overall recognition quality. ECTtracker can set the priority of the channel automatically after filling the Matrix of Samples.
- the unlimited amount of configurations. The program makes it possible to save configurations into separate files and switch them on the fly when it's necessary. The very light size of such files allows the user to store them on any portable device and share using e-mail.
- the portability and the small size of the program allow the user to run it from any external storage device. ECTtracker does not require installation and does not change the registry of the operating system.
- rich customizability and average technical requirements. ECTtracker provides stable work even on low-end computers due to its ability of elements disabling.
- flexible setting and support of customized recognition structures. More advanced users can change the recognition structure files and even select the priority level for each of its points.
- localizations. The program supports various languages of interface, which provide a high level of comfort and allow the user to work with the program in their own language.
- the simple and intuitive interface allows the user to familiarize with the program very quickly and change all the settings easily.
The main feature of ECTtracker is the adaptation to the physical abilities of the user. The program can be used by both fully paralyzed patients and those who suffer from uncontrollable muscular activity (tremors, tics). In case of a contrast marker usage, ECTtracker provides the proper quality even for those patients with physical damages of the face: wounds, burns, singed eyelashes, or postoperative eye conditions. The ability to change the matching level between analyzed image and samples, as well as a wide selection of structures and some other parameters, allow the user to adjust ECTtracker for specific needs and optimal tracking results.
A favorable difference of ECTtracker in comparison with similar software is its full trainability, which allows users in any physical state to work with the program. The tracking algorithm of ECTtracker works independently to the position of the user, lighting or technical parameters of the computer. Nowadays most of the algorithms are using light and dark parts of the image for analysis, while ECTtracker allows the user to create a base of samples for tracking, which are unique for each user and environment (including lighting or camera position). Such a high level of trainability provides a high quality of tracking in almost any case. As a result, the user can work with the virtual keyboard more confidently and faster, creating less stress at the same time. Furthermore, ECTtracker allows the user to enter symbols not only by eye blinking, but with any movement or gesture clearly visible in the frame. This feature can be used by patients with a wide variety of physical activity limitations.
All changes of settings performed by the user can be saved as separate configuration files, making it possible to change such files "on the fly", allowing different users to work on the same machine. Recognition structures and personal settings are adjusted to specific needs of each user. The program allows the user to create an unlimited amount of settings profiles, while the light size of those files allows the user to send them through email or in any other way.
The portability and the small size of the program allow the user to run it from any external media. ECTtracker does not require installation and does not make changes to the registry of the operating system.
Information fields of the main window of the program, the additional debugging windows and the detailed event log are handy features for fine-tuning. At the same time, all debugging elements can be disabled during the normal operation of the program. The ability to reduce the amount of processed frames per second can reduce the load on the processor and other system resources of the computer. This allows the user to adjust ECTtracker for comfortable work even on computers with low performance.
The simple and user-friendly interface allows the user to perform the initial setting procedure really fast and to begin working with ECTtracker. All the basic functionality of the main menu is duplicated with "hot keys" for quick management. In addition, ECTtracker supports different localizations, allowing users to work with the program in their native language.
The setup of ECTtracker will not take too long. In case of changes in the lighting conditions or the position of the patient, the user can create new samples for really fast tracking by using the auto-calibration feature. There's no need to delete old samples, because the program allows the user to save and load an unlimited amount of settings profiles.
All these features provide extreme flexibility in the configuration and operation of ECTtracker.