Around the world, 65 million people are affected by epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, which makes it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Additionally, the cause of epilepsy for 50% of people remain unknown and people with epilepsy and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination due to it (World Health Organization).
Photosensitivity, formally known as photosensitive epilepsy, is a condition that results in sensitivity to certain visual patterns, particularly flashing lights. When exposed to these visual stimuli, a person with photosensitivity can experience seizures or seizure-like symptoms. The Epilepsy Foundation has identified key triggers for light-induced seizures, including, but not limited to, the frequency and intensity of flashing light. When the 1997 episode of Pokémon (termed “Pokémon Shock”) debuted, a heartbreaking 685 children in Japan were hospitalized due to one scene with flashing red and blue lights.
Knowing that millions of people, including one of our teammates, suffer from this horrible condition, we wanted to find a way to make their daily lives easier. Acknowledging that our lives have been transitioned to be online and on our gadgets more often than not due to COVID-19, we wanted to create the first step to help epileptic patients, particularly photosensitive epileptic patients, in creating a video streaming experience that is more considerate of them. Although video producers are the first line of defense in removing content that could trigger photosensitivity, online video platforms like YouTube currently lack the necessary regulation.
Through EpilepSEEN, we wanted millions of people to feel more seen and recognized when streaming and enjoying the videos, shows, and movies they want to watch, whether it be for work, school, or for leisure.
What it does
EpilepSEEN is a program that detects patterns of flashing light in video and outputs an augmented video with the photosensitive-triggering light patterns removed, achieved in near real-time for standard definition video.
Although video producers are the first line of defense in removing content that could trigger photosensitivity, online video platforms like YouTube currently lack the necessary regulation. This software is meant directly for the end-user, giving agency and peace of mind for video viewers with photosensitivity.
This program has shown promising results on augmenting dangerous flashing videos like the “Pokémon Shock” episode.
When the 1997 episode of Pokémon (termed “Pokémon Shock”) debuted, 685 children in Japan were hospitalized due to one scene with flashing red and blue lights. For more information, see “The Pokémon Panic of 1997” by Skeptical Inquirer (May 2001), https://web.archive.org/web/20020125093204/http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-05/pokemon.html.
How I built it
Built in Python using NumPy and OpenCV.
Challenges I ran into
Selecting the right project and project specs considering the time constraints. I am a beginner hacker and beginner at python and had a lot to learn in a very short time.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am proud of not being afraid to learn new frameworks and learning OpenCV. I am also proud of being able to create a tangible invention that I believe is a start of something remarkable in the world of Epilepsy.
What we learned
Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. Pay attention to documentation! Through Youtube, Stack Overflow, and tutorials, we figured it out and pushed through to create a fully functional project.
What's next for EpilepSEEN
Thoroughly testing EpilepSEEN and making it available for users everywhere.