Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Tobii or not Tobii? Will eye-tracking soon go mainstream as a UI element?


TOBII company homepage >>

Here we see another example of "eye-put." Is the eye phone trend for real?

Eye-tracking techniques could certainly solve several real-world usability flaws on PC and smartphone platforms and lead to advanced natural-user interfaces. In mobile devices, one of the more annoying real-world UI issues is that of screens jumping into dark battery-saver mode while you're actively reading an article.

Some device vendors are trying to address the issue. Samsung's "SmartStay" feature in the Galaxy S2, for example, uses the phone's front-facing camera to detect when the user's eyes are looking at or away from the display and adjusts the screen's lighting status accordingly. SmartStay is a nice thought, but it's not the thought that counts, it's the execution. User reviews of SmartStay have been mixed. Being pretty good usually isn't a strategic goal.

Tobii, a Swedish company which develops eye-tracking solutions, has introduced an eye-tracking accessory called "Rex" for Windows 8 machines. In essence, it enables the eyeball's gaze to act as a computer mouse.

There's some interesting potential uses for eye-tracking. Market researchers, for example, realize that gazes can be worth a thousand words. The use of eye-tracking input could cut across phones, computers, televisions, cars.

It could be time for platform vendors to be more forward looking and support looking forward.

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