South Carolina Patent of the Month – August 2020

Smartphones and smart devices have become increasingly popular ways to scan images, like barcodes, because of their highly functional camera technology and ubiquity. However, there are issues with focus and lighting; often, what should be a 5 second scan takes much longer. So, Honeywell, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, developed a system that can read barcodes while tracking the user’s eyes to identify what they may be looking for.

The Invention

The invention involves a processor coupled to two imaging systems: (1) to scan and provide visual display, and (2) for detecting a gaze of a user. It determines a gaze coordinate location (on the screen) and uses this location to start decoding a region of interest within the image.

So, the front facing camera is configured to find the user’s pupils, which are then tracked and used to calculate gaze coordinates. An eye gaze cursor graphic or “gaze zone coordinate” displays as a dot on the screen. The rear facing camera shows the image, and the processor maps this so that it may be separated into small locations/zones. The gaze zone coordinate is used as a starting point for the processor to decode the image, and also alerts the autofocus and autoexposure. As the gaze zone coordinate changes, the automatic focus area is updated, as is the auto-exposure/contrast of the image.

If there’s multiple barcodes, the system shows screen graphics to allow users to select a barcode. For each barcode there is an associated “gaze selection zone” (i.e. a graphic in each corner of the screen). The user’s gaze is monitored to see if it stays on the graphic or on the bounds of barcodes for a number of milliseconds. If so, that barcode is selected and returned to the processor. The user also has the option of selecting the barcode with their finger or via voice. 

The eye-gaze tracking will be available in the Honeywell SwiftDecoder.TM, a mobile barcode scanning application. The app provides a feature/plug-in where users can control the look and function of a scanning operation. This plug-in would have the ability to access the camera feeds from both the rear and front facing cameras.

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