Blinkr: an AI-Powered Blink Reminder for PC

Letzte Aktualisierung:
24. April 2024

blink reminder that shows for blinkr when running the app and no blink is detected for too long

I’m in front of the screen pretty much most of my waking hours, usually 10+ hours per day. Most of it for work, some of it for video games.

All that time at the screen takes quite a toll on the eyes, with discomfort, eye strain and dry eyes having been an on and off issue for me for years.

Why I created a Blink Reminder App

During a time when it was particularly bad and nothing else seemed to help, I wondered why there isn’t a software that I could just install that tracks my blinks and reminds me when I don’t blink enough. It seemed like an easy enough thing. When I couldn’t find any app like that, I started programming one myself.

Turns out, detecting blinks is a surprisingly difficult problem, at least if you also want the software to run on the limitations a consumer level webcam and laptop. That’s because the duration of a blink is very short. We are talking about milliseconds here. It took me years of tinkering and testing to develop an algorithm that could both reliably detect blinks and also run fast enough on a typical work laptop.

The result of all this work is Blinkr. In a nutshell, Blinkr is an AI-powered app that helps combat dry eye and eye strain caused by prolonged computer use.

blinkr logo small

Here’s how Blinkr works:

  • Blinkr uses your PC’s webcam to detect when you blink (or, rather, when you don’t).
  • If the app notices you haven’t blinked in a while, you will see a slide in notification on your screen.
  • The reminder goes away as soon as you blink. As a result, the brain learns through reinforcement training to blink more often naturally.
  • It’s effortless to use; simply install the app and let it run in the background while you work or play on the computer.
  • Ready to give it a try? Download Blinkr now and experience the difference for yourself!
blink reminder that shows for blinkr when running the app and no blink is detected for too long
This is the reminder you will see sliding into your screen when your blink rate is too low

Want some more in depth-info about how the Blinkr blink reminder app helps with dry eyes? Then keep on reading.

The Connection Between Computer Use and Dry Eye

If you’ve ever experienced dry, itchy, or tired eyes after a long session at your PC, you’re not alone. Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a common problem among computer users. But why does staring at a screen dry out your eyes?

It all comes down to blinking. When we’re focused on a digital screen, we tend to blink less frequently than we normally would. A scientific paper from 2023 reported that “On average, a person blinks 15–20 times per minute; however, […] this rate is significantly lower when working at a computer, decreasing to 4–6 times per minute”. In other words, the blink rate while working at the computer is only about 26%-40% of what you usually have. So about a quarter to a half of the normal number of blinks. It’s no surprise that working at the computer can dry out your eyes.

From what I have learned while working on Blinkr, digital eye strain gets even worse when playing computer games, as people tend to blink even less when gaming compared to when working.

Tear Break-up Time: How Many Blinks Are Enough?

Tear break-up time (TBUT) is a measure of how long it takes for the tear film on the surface of your eye to evaporate or break-up after a blink. A stable, healthy tear film is essential for maintaining clear vision and comfortable eyes. When the TBUT is too short, it means that the tear film is not stable enough to protect and lubricate the eye, leading to dryness and irritation.

Essentially, you need to blink before the tear film breaks up to avoid drying out of the eyes. In other words, if your TBUT is 7 seconds, then you need to blink at least every 7 seconds.

In practice, the tear break-up time varies a lot between people and situations. If you sit in a drafty dry environment, then your tear film will evaporate much faster than if you would stand in the shower, where the relative humidity in the air will be close to 100%. That’s why people tend to find that showering reliefs their dry eye symptoms temporarily.

A study from 2019 found out that the median tear break-up time varies between 4–19 seconds, with people with dry eye having a median TBUT of about 5 seconds. In other words, to avoid drying out of the eye surface, they would have to blink about 12 times per minute. But we already mentioned before, that people only blink 4–6 times per minute while working at the computer. And here you see why working at the computer causes dry eyes. There is a massive gap between how much people should blink, and how much they ACTUALLY blink while working at the computer.

How Blinkr improves the blink rate

So we know now that people usually don’t blink enough while at the computer. How does Blinkr improve this?

Let me explain to you how the blink reminders work and how they improve your blink rate:

1. Blinkr uses your PC’s webcam to monitor your face and eyes.

2. A proprietary AI-based algorithm detects when you blink (or don’t)

3. If Blinkr notices you haven’t blinked for too long, it’ll display a blink reminder on the side of your screen. The reminder is noticeable enough to make you blink, but without unnecessarily disrupting your work or game.

4. Once you blink, the reminder disappears, and the app resets its internal timer.

As a result, Blinks helps you to avoid those very long blinkless gaps which are a major contributor to digital eye strain. As a side effect, I have experienced that I also blink more in general. The brain seems to learn to blink more naturally by itself. The blink reminder is a type of reinforcement training.

How to Use Blinkr

Using Blinkr is a breeze. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Download and install the app on your PC.
  2. Make sure your PC has a functioning webcam with at least 30 fps (pretty much all webcams will work – an inbuilt laptop webcam is usually sufficient).
  3. Launch the app. Check the camera settings in Blinkr and adjust your camera so that your face is centered in the frame.
  4. Let Blinkr do its thing! The app will run in the background, monitoring your blinks and providing reminders as needed. If you blink enough, you won’t get reminders. So the app will only annoy you with reminders when you really need them!

It’s really that easy. With Blinkr, you can go about your daily computer tasks without worrying about dry, strained eyes. Once your eyes feel better, just keep Blinkr running as a preventive measure.

blinkr logo small

So, what are you waiting for? Download Blinkr today and take the first step towards healthier, happier eyes.

About the Author

Gerrit Sonnabend

With a background in qualitative research and data science, Gerrit has extensively researched the causes of dry eyes. With Blinkr, he has developed an effective solution for dry eyes caused by computer screen work,