TUAS integrates Eye Tracking technology in the MarSEVR Command Bridge Safety VR Technology

TUAS integrates Eye Tracking technology in the MarSEVR Command Bridge Safety VR Technology

Prof. Dr. Evangelos Markopoulos and Prof. Dr. Mika Luimula of the Game Lab of the Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) Research Group of Futuristic Interactive Technologies, Panagiotis Markopoulos, PhD student in the doctorate program of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Turku, and Niko Laivuori, TUAS Game Lab engineer, achieved to integrate Eye Tracking on the MarSEVR (Maritime Safety Education with VR Technology) Command Bridge VR Technology.

Command bridges are an interesting use case to utilize eye tracking due to its complex operation environment. The researchers identified that especially inexperienced users with no gaming experiences, have difficulties to act in virtual reality environments without extra guidance. The MarSEVR (Maritime Safety Education with VR Technology) is the first MarISOT technology developed at TUAS with the support of Aboa Mare maritime specialists. The technology provides practical situational awareness and decision making by replicating a ship command bridge environment to be used for virtual education in maritime safety training.

The technology used In the experiment was the Varjo VR-2 Pro VR headsets with two cameras inside the headsets, one for each eye, record in the infrared spectrum to capturing images of the eyes at 100 frames per second with relatively high resolution sensors of 1280×800 pixels. The Varjo plugin on the top of the SteamVR offers tools to render image to the Varjo headset, to detect user’s gaze, to calibrate eye tracking manually, and to configurate the eye tracking. Calibration is needed every time while the user puts headset back on since even a slight change in headset’s position will affect in the accuracy of the eye tracking.

The integration of the eye tracking technology in the MarSEVR was one of the requirements of the maritime industry experts who tested previous versions of the technology. It has been indicated that the confidence of the bridge commander and the rest of the crew is reflected through their eyes on the actions taken to perform their operations. Hesitation, thinking delays, second guessing, wondering, and other feelings can be expressed and identified by the eye movements. When on-board, sailing across the oceans it is the confidence above the skills that secure safe journeys. The eye tracking technology provides more than understanding the confidence of the seafarers when performing a task. It extends towards understanding the mental state that impacts the psychology of the seafarers which is reflected on their eye movements. This is a major issue for the shipping insurance companies that play a critical role on the effective and profitable operations of the shipping industry.

The results of this research have been submitted for publication under the following academic paper : Mika Luimula, Evangelos Markopoulos , Johanna Kaakinen, Panagiotis Markopoulos, Niko Laivuori (2020). Eye Tracking in Maritime Immersive Safe Oceans Technology. Submitted to CogInfoCom 2020. 11th IEEE International Conference on Cognitive Infocommunications. On-Line Conference. Sept. 23-25, 2020.