New spectral eye video database SPEED revolutionises eye-tracking

Techniques to acquire spectral data have been static for a long time - until now. Exciting and novel spectral video technologies are emerging, allowing us to extract increasingly dynamic knowledge from light. Using a spectral video device in eye-tracking, computational spectral imaging and eye-tracking researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have created a novel – first of its kind – combined spectral video/spectral image database: the SPectral Eye vidEo Database, SPEED.

The potential of spectral imaging technologies has been shown in many fields, such as medicine, life science and industry where the spectrum has been used, for example, to differentiate healthy and unhealthy tissue or separate real and counterfeit objects. However, these technologies are often too slow to capture spectral images from dynamic objects. This created an evolutionary need for the extension of spectral imaging to the recording of spectral video. In a spectral video, each frame of the video stream contains a spectral image cube. In this way, spectral video systems capture spatial, spectral and temporal information, and combine the advantages of spectral imaging and video capture.

A recent PhD thesis completed at the University of Eastern Finland explored the potential of such spectral video technology by testing an existing spectral video system and challenging it in practical eye-tracking application. As a result, the study developed protocols for the characterization of spectral video that may serve as future guidelines on spectral video systems evaluation in this emerging field. In addition, the study used a spectral video camera to capture spectral videos of a fast-moving object: the human eye. As a very concrete outcome of the study, the SPectral Eye vidEo Database, SPEED, was born.  

The unique database, SPEED, was motivated by the challenges faced in eye-tracking, especially under harsh conditions. When users wear eyewear or make-up, reflections and extreme eye positions interfere with eye-tracking technologies. The team proposed and demonstrated that spectral signatures can be exploited to create new approaches for imaging, training, analysis and interpretation of eye-tracking data, especially in harsh conditions. SPEED consists of over 180 spectral videos, it continues to grow and it is publicly available to all researchers (e.g., for teaching-related needs or creating and testing new methods of dynamic eye analysis via spectra). Although published only in 2016, the database has already attracted attention from the scientific community and industry. Aside from its use in eye tracking, SPEED also has the potential to be utilised in other eye-related research areas, such as medicine, biometrics, and eye and vision research.

The findings were presented by Ana Gebejes , MSc, in her doctoral dissertation entitled Spectral video: application in human eye analysis and tracking, which is available for download at http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-2551-0/index_en.html  

SPEED database website: https://www.uef.fi/web/spectral/speed
Video of the SPEED database on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouvlxq8ZM1s  

For further information, please contact:
Researcher Ana Gebejes, ana.gebejes@uef.fi , tel. +358503797849

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The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.

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