Warning: a GIF used in today’s blog contains flashing images.
Students at the University of Bremen, Germany, have built a wearable camera that records the seconds of vision lost when you blink. Augenblick uses a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera Module alongside muscle sensors to record footage whenever you close your eyes, producing a rather disjointed film of the sights you miss out on.
Blink and you’ll miss it
The average person blinks up to five times a minute, with each blink lasting 0.5 to 0.8 seconds. These half-seconds add up to about 30 minutes a day. What sights are we losing during these minutes? That is the question asked by students Manasse Pinsuwan and René Henrich when they set out to design Augenblick.
Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Every day we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss.
Capturing lost moments
For Augenblick, the wearer sticks MyoWare Muscle Sensor pads to their face, and these detect the electrical impulses that trigger blinking.
Two pads are applied over the orbicularis oculi muscle that forms a ring around the eye socket, while the third pad is attached to the cheek as a neutral point.
Biology fact: there are two muscles responsible for blinking. The orbicularis oculi muscle closes the eye, while the levator palpebrae superioris muscle opens it — and yes, they both sound like the names of Harry Potter spells.
The sensor is read 25 times a second. Whenever it detects that the orbicularis oculi is active, the Camera Module records video footage.
Pressing a button on the side of the Augenblick glasses set the code running. An LED lights up whenever the camera is recording and also serves to confirm the correct placement of the sensor pads.
The Pi Zero saves the footage so that it can be stitched together later to form a continuous, if disjointed, film.
Learn more about the Augenblick blink camera
You can find more information on the conception, design, and build process of Augenblick here in German, with a shorter explanation including lots of photos here in English.
And if you’re keen to recreate this project, our free project resource for a wearable Pi Zero time-lapse camera will come in handy as a starting point.
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