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07-06-2010

I am regularly asked how eye tracking, or gaze contingent eye control, will be used in consumer applications in the future. It is a tricky area, as our eyes are not good at fine motor control. Until recently, the technologies to accommodate for our eyes’ capabilities and allow gaze control have not been readily available; but things are changing!

In this post I’d like to introduce the concept of eye control as we know it and then show some new work on reading eBooks or the Web that really gets me excited!

Assistive Technology

For many years, Tobii Assistive Technology has been providing solutions for people with physical disabilities to control the computer with their eyes. The cost and size for these devices is rapidly decreasing. Making it much more accessible to a wider range of people. You can see Chris using a new Tobii C12 with CEye in the following YouTube video.

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Thanks Chris!! (mobiletobii).

Eye Control for Specialist Applications

At a more specialised level it is widely recognised that eye tracking may help the design process by allowing people to do more things than their hands can alone. For example, Terry Winograd and his Stanford researchers report named “Eye Expose” tested people switching between applications with their eyes.

Eye tracking has also been successfully trialled for very simplistic menu interactions in laproscopic surgery, where Doctors can use an eye tracker to do things on the screen while their hands are busy. (Tien, 2005 and Tien and Atkins, 2008 [PDFs].

Eye Control Games

Eye tracking has also been done plenty of times in the gaming context. There are plenty of Tobii based research papers online and I have previously blogged about it. Tobii also promotes arcade gaming, facilitated by their new OEM technology, on their website.

Here’s a Tobii X120 used for controlling World of Warcraft.

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You can also see a comprehensive list of eye control games research on Cogain’s Wiki.

So, where is all this headed?

Reading Enhanced With Eye Control

Recently, I found an example from some researchers at The German Research Centre for Artificial intelligence (DFKI). They used a Tobii C12 with the Tobii CEye eye control module to show how interaction with a book can be augmented with the eyes, for everyone!

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Exciting hey?

Here’s a further introduction to their concept of Text2.0.

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I love the bit at the end where the system faded out the irrelevant text once it knew you were speed reading.

I did a quick search of Tobii’s DIIGO database of academic eye tracking asbtracts and also found that Stanford Researchers, Manu Kumar and Terry Winograd also did a small study using a Tobii 1750 to augment reading by inducing scrolling behaviour. 

Research on consumer eye control applications is significantly advanced and it might not be long before all of us can have it at home!

Apple! Please strap some of this kit onto your next iPad please!!

Have you seen great examples of cutting edge technology research pointing toward ways of improving the consumer experience? Please share them with me!

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