// Bakker P, Boele HJ, Al-Ars Z, Strydis C (2020) Arxiv

Real-Time Face and Landmark Localization for Eyeblink Detection.

Pavlovian eyeblink conditioning is a powerful experiment used in the field of neuroscience to measure multiple aspects of how we learn in our daily life. To track the movement of the eyelid during an experiment, researchers have traditionally made use of potentiometers or electromyography. More recently, the use of computer vision and image processing alleviated the need for these techniques but currently employed methods require human intervention and are not fast enough to enable real-time processing. In this work, a face- and landmark-detection algorithm have been carefully combined in order to provide fully automated eyelid tracking, and have further been accelerated to make the first crucial step towards online, closed-loop experiments. Such experiments have not been achieved so far and are expected to offer significant insights in the workings of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Based on an extensive literature search, various different algorithms for face detection and landmark detection have been analyzed and evaluated. Two algorithms were identified as most suitable for eyelid detection: the Histogram-of-Oriented-Gradients (HOG) algorithm for face detection and the Ensemble-of-Regression-Trees (ERT) algorithm for landmark detection. These two algorithms have been accelerated on GPU and CPU, achieving speedups of 1,753× and 11×, respectively. To demonstrate the usefulness of our eyelid-detection algorithm, a research hypothesis was formed and a well-established neuroscientific experiment was employed: eyeblink detection. Our experimental evaluation reveals an overall application runtime of 0.533 ms per frame, which is 1,101× faster than the sequential implementation and well within the real-time requirements of eyeblink conditioning in humans, i.e. faster than 500 frames per second.