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What Will Apple Do With Swedish Eye-Tracking Technology? 170

Posted by timothy
from the oh-just-the-usual dept.
andylim writes "An article on recombu.com explores the possibility that Apple is gearing up to launch eye-tracking technology soon. Citing a patent filed in 2008 that mentions 'gaze vectors' and a recent purchase of units from a Swedish eye-tracking company, the author suggests that the inclusion of eye-tracking tech in the company's forthcoming tablet would be Jobs's magnum opus. 'What better flourish to a career that began with the popularization of windows, icons, mouse and pointer than to usurp them all?'"
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What Will Apple Do With Swedish Eye-Tracking Technology?

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  • by Drethon (1445051) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:03PM (#30756170)
    Not sure if this technology would apply to it but I've always wanted a computer with main unit, say the size of a cell phone, wired to a set of LCD glasses (preferably transparent so you could see whats going on around you while using it). Then you could navigate with voice commands, gestures and eye movements.

    Though with multi-touch coming these days you could have multiple mouse icons and use eye movement and mouse movement on the same computer or instead eliminate the mouse and never have to take your hands off the keyboard to navigate (yes some of us use computers for more than porn).

    Just my $0.02
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:04PM (#30756188) Journal

    'What better flourish to a career that began with the popularisation of windows, icons, mouse and pointer than to usurp them all?'"

    Eye tracking technology doesn't usurp ANY of that. If anything, eyetracking technology makes windows and icons more useful, since those are designed to hold your attention for the short span that you need them.

    And don't think that this technology would ever replace the mouse. You need a mouse for gaming, amongst many things. One such annoying technology around today is rollover ads. Our eyes often make tiny glances at colours and items that grab our attention.

    Point is, they aren't changing the existing system, merely adding onto it.

  • Not Apple-like (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:05PM (#30756206)
    I don't really think that Apple will use eye tracking... yet. Why? Because there aren't enough existing products out there. The vast majority of Apple's products show up when there are 1 or 2 other early products out there that Apple can improve on. Eye-tracking isn't used in any major way yet and so I don't think Apple will use it quite yet.
  • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:18PM (#30756354)
    I hate it when I look at a field and start typing only to find out that something else has focus. This happens to me in every GUI I've ever used and if a webcam with gaze vectoring can fix that I'd really like it.
  • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:20PM (#30756382) Homepage

    And don't think that this technology would ever replace the mouse.

    You never played Doom did you? I believe the quote was that no one would use a mouse because using the keyboard is so much better. Games adapt to the input devices available to them, and the mouse, at some point will be history. Don't say never. It's never true. :-)

  • Re:Obligatory joke (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:21PM (#30756406) Journal

    Have a sense of humor, mods. That's a decent pun playing off the Apple trolls.

  • Videoconferencing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dracker (1323355) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:28PM (#30756504)
    One of the big challenges in videoconferencing is the illusion that the subject, who is looking at your face on the screen, appears as if he or she isn't making eye contact with you, as the camera is not located in the middle of the screen. While this may seem minor at first glance (ha ha), it's actually a pretty important issue in videoconferencing, with significant demand for software that corrects it.

    A "gaze vector" is exactly the kind of information software would need to "correct" the illusion, to make it seem like the subject does have eye contact. I bet Apple is going to incorporate eye contact correction tech for videoconferencing in its products.
  • by bnenning (58349) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:33PM (#30756584)

    People can't even drive straight while TALKING on a cell phone.

    Certainly you wouldn't use it while driving, and even walking might take some practice. But if you're not moving, having the display on glasses is a huge improvement over both laptops and phone displays.

    Not to mention the difficulty some of us have on focusing on a screen that close.

    Nobody can, but my understanding is that they can create an image that appears clearly even though you aren't directly focused on it.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:35PM (#30756610) Journal

    I don't disagree the mouse will disappear, just that Eye-tracking won't be the thing to do it. I believe Multi-touch will be, go google some of Jeff Hans videos (or look it up on TED.com) and you will see some amazing applicatons he's made with Touch Screens, or even sophistaced smart boards and projection techniques using relatively affordable hardware.

    I just watched this [ted.com] and I agree - even the keyboard will probably be phased out once accurate Touch screen technology gets better amongst the big players. The great thing about all of Jeff Hans' items is that they are Open Source, if I put the money down for the hardware* I can duplicate EVERYTHING he demos, even contribute to his projects.

    I might fire off an email and just ask him if he has any research going on with Eye tracking technology, and if he does, how much it would cost to set something like that up.

    I think ultimately by the time I reach 80, some of the tech in Minority Report should be existant. We will have cool interfaces that change with multiple inputs from the user. And that Ads can essentially read my retinas from far away, and annoy the hell out of me.

    *In fact, the first video of his that I saw he was demoing how a Wiimote and an Infra red Diode (Approximately 50 dollars) could produce a smart board (several hundred dollars). I am still considering doing this with just to play around with it.

  • by smidget2k4 (847334) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:51PM (#30756804)
    Nintendo might beg to differ...
  • insensitive clods! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xch13fx (1463819) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:55PM (#30756856)
    I have a lazy eye =(
  • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:16PM (#30757892)

    Those screens are great, but they depend on having an IR camera pointed at the whole back of the screen, which means that they aren't getting thin very fast.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:59PM (#30759312)

    Hiding it between the pixels of LCD screen, when you have good enough manufacturing, seems to be
    just...a straightforward progression.

    Well, yeah, if you over-simplify any given proposal ("Make a camera small enough to fit between the pixels on a screen!") anything can seem like a straightforward progression. "Once a CPU is powerful enough, making an android is a straightforward progression!"

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