Interview with Andrej Fogelton, the author of the Eyeblink technology
Eye fatigue, itching, pain, red eyes and blurred vision often accompany daily computer usage. These are the symptoms of dry eyes. The new software Eyeblink increases its users' blink rate by reminding them to blink more, and therefore prevent eye disease.
The author of the Eyeblink Technology, Andrej Fogelton, is a software engineer. As a graduate student at the Slovak University of Technology, he works on research dedicated to blink detection, as he himself suffers from the dry eye syndrome. He plans on creating a new platform for Linux and Mac and raising awareness about the fact that blinking matters. He has work experience from Spain, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.
When did you come up with the idea to create an app to solve the problem of dry eyes and how long did you work on it?
“I started having problems with dry eyes at the beginning of my studies. I found out that my eyes got dry because I did not blink often enough in front of my computer screen. The first idea was sprung up in 2010, while I was working on my dissertation called Hand monitoring. Using a camera, I was monitoring movement and I realized that it would be possible to detect blinking using similar algorithms. At first, my motivation was to help my problem. It was later, after I attended various startup events, that I realized Eyeblink might be helpful for others as well.
I decided to continue studying at the third level and I didn't have much time, so I decided to make the camera detection of blinking my thesis. With Tomáš Drutarovský, we managed to publish the algorithm that I planned to use in the final version of my program. However, when tested in real life conditions, it was not accurate enough. After three years of studies, I was not close to finishing my doctorate degree, so I started thinking about employment and starting a business. At FIIT STU, the doctoral scholarship lasts for only three years.
I decided to start my own business because I didn't just want to be an ordinary programmer building a career. Very rarely do I hear that a friend is working on something he enjoys. I believe in the potential of Eyeblink and I decided to give it a try. I myself had focused on the topic of eye-blink detection and after six months I came up with an algorithm that performed well in real life conditions. During the fourth year of my doctoral studies, I led a team project where students engaged in creating an Eyeblink application. Just like Tomáš, they were all smart and contributed to the making of the final application. Their results were a good basis for my subsequent half-year long development. Working full-time, I dedicated 1,5 years to the development of Eyeblink.”
You made the Eyeblink application available for everyone on the Internet in order to help the ones who work with their computers daily. Do you have a patent? Who helped you with finalizing your idea?
“Programs cannot be patented. There are different types of protection, but the best protection is good research and development that doesn't give space to competition. Many of my friends helped me with implementing the project, I learned even more about graphics, websites and many more things. I had several collaborators that I found based on individual tasks that had to be done. For example, while working on the promo, I contacted my friend who's a pianist and asked her if she would be able to compose music for my video.”
Every success inspires new topics. Do you already have a new idea in mind? Tell us only what you can, of course.
“I have some ideas, but what I don't have is time. Starting with sales is a big milestone, but I still have a lot of work waiting to be done in order to raise awareness about Eyeblink and about the fact that blinking matters. During the development of Eyeblink, I found that many people experience the symptoms of the dry eye syndrome without knowing about its risks. I myself did not know about them until I started getting serious symptoms such as red eyes and morning eye pain. It was these severe symptoms that forced me to start dealing with the health status of my eyes - I adjusted my work environment and I started trying to form better habits. I tried writing it all down on the Eyeblink website. I am getting a lot of feedback on how to improve Eyeblink. For now, I want to devote my attention to Eyeblink and finishing my doctorate.“
We wish you a lot of success in using Eyeblink in practice and in pursuing many more great ideas.
eyeblink – Blinking matters
Interview prepared b:y Marta Bartošovičová
Photo: FIIT STUBA SK
Published by: BK
Translated by: Dorota JagnešákováBack to top