Did we ever expect to have phones taking command based on our eye movements, a video to pause when you look away from the screen, a smart scroll to scroll up and down depending with the movement of users eyes. A major Break-Through by Mozilla has made it all possible in today’s era.
Eye tracking can be defined as a technique that is used to record and measure eye movements. Definition is simple enough, but we always get a follow-up of “how does it record” and “will it hurt”? Eye tracking data is collected using either a remote or head-mounted ‘eye tracker’ connected to a computer. While there are many different types of non-intrusive eye trackers, they generally include two common components: a light source and a camera. The light source (usually infrared) is directed toward the eye. The camera tracks the reflection of the light source along with visible ocular features such as the pupil. This data is used to extrapolate the rotation of the eye and ultimately the direction of gaze. Additional information such as blink frequency and changes in pupil diameter are also detected by the eye tracker.
Like any good technology, eye control is only as useful as the software developers who write for it. Users need to use advanced mathematical models and calculations to determine the point of gaze and set up and fully automate so that it works accurately and reliably in a wide range of environments. The technology still needs to be smaller, use less battery, and cost effective.
Eye tracking can be used in a wide variety of applications typically categorized as active or passive. Active applications involve device control, for example aiming in games, eye activated login or hands-free typing. Passive applications include performance analysis of design, layout and advertising. Other examples are vehicle safety, medical diagnostics and academic research.
Real eye tracking makes it possible to observe and evaluate human attention objectively and non-intrusively, enabling you to increase the impact of your visual designs and communication. What content in your website does not get any attention – and why? How strong is the engagement for your ad – and how do you improve it? In the era of Smart Phones it enables eye control on mobile devices, allowing hands free navigation of websites and apps, including eye activated login, enhanced gaming experiences and cloud based user engagement analytics.
Eye tracking in itself has a few strong use cases that will benefit a few industries ominously, but when it is united with other input methods like touch, speech, GPS, gyroscope, gesture, etc. many niche products and novelties will come up as eye tracking gets associated with our surroundings.
We are at the doorway of a revolution of how we will interact with the surroundings. Devices will be smarter and better aware of human emotions, mental state and interests, and we can provide valued content built on these considerations. The age of only using mouse and keyboard or touch on a screen will end soon.