16 February 2018 Proof of Concept Grant

ERC Funding to create a semi-transparent eye-tracking system The European Research Council, in its efforts to help ERC grant-holders to bridge the gap between their research and the earliest stage of a marketable innovation, created the Proof of Concept (PoC) funding scheme for researchers who have already been awarded an ERC grant. Not only does this program help ERC grantees to explore the innovation potential of their research and/or commercialize the results of their ERC-funded research, the program complements the efforts of ICFO’s Knowledge and Technology Transfer Unit (KTT), which proactively searches for ways to translate newly generated knowledge into new technologies.

ICREA Prof at ICFO Frank Koppens has been awarded his third PoC to date, the eighth award of this kind for ICFO in the past six years, for the project titled GTRACK. This project’s main goal is to demonstrate a semi-transparent eye-tracking system that is disposed in the line of sight of the user, for portable applications.

Eye-tracking provides a hands-free and brain-off human machine interaction. It has existed since the 1800’s, but is expected to appear abundantly in our daily lives with the advent of virtual and augmented reality In existing eye-tracking systems, a camera must be placed sufficiently close to the eye to capture enough IR light at sufficiently high resolution, while not blocking the user’s vision. Placing the camera directly on the lens circumvents these disadvantages. The technology can be applied in future smart glasses for augmented reality, medical inspection and gaming.

The Quantum Nano-Opotelelectronics research group led by ICREA Prof Koppens, in collaboration with prototype developer Stijn Goossens and researchers in the Functional Optoelectronic Nanomaterials group led by ICREA Prof Gerasimos Konstantatos, will use hybrid Quantum Dot – Graphene photodetectors in this new technology.