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Does This Headline Know You're Reading It? 140

An anonymous reader writes "Not yet, but it could. German artificial intelligence researchers are combining JavaScript with eye-tracking hardware to create 'text 2.0,' which 'infers user intentions.' Unimportant words also fade out while you're skimming the text, and a bookmark automatically appears if you glance away. It can pronounce the words you're reading, and reading certain words can trigger the appearance of footnotes or even translations, biographies, definitions, and sound effects or animations, almost like the truly interactive books in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. 'With the help of an eye tracker, Text 2.0 follows your progress and presents effects just in time,' the researchers explain in a video. Meanwhile, DFKI has already created a free 'Processing Easy Eye Tracker plugin' (or PEEP) to manipulate windows with what they call 'gaze-controlled tab expose,' while there's speculation similar technology may be adopted by Apple. Apple has already purchased Tobii's eye-tracking hardware, and 'Whether these are for internal research only or for a future product, Apple is characteristically not saying.'"

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Does This Headline Know You're Reading It?

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  • by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:17PM (#31587966)

    Really? Is this really what we wanted??

    • But this is slashdot, where people only read the headline! Who needs sophisticated AI to tell us that?

      • by durrr ( 1316311 )
        You won't get away with just reading the headline when this comes around. The rest of the article will helpfully move itself to your center of vision and scroll by in a leisurely pace until you've read it all.
        Version two of the software will then ask you questions from the article to make sure you really read and understood it.
      • The article summarized and quoted is not linked in the summary. The actual article here [].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eladith ( 1365123 )
      Text that can understand the intentions of the reader and respond accordingly could be quite useful, for example by explaining some portion of text in more detail. Unfortunately intelligent enough content production system required for such is probably way harder to implement than ads that follow the reader's gaze.
      • by bynary ( 827120 )
        Isn't this what your brain is for? I'm being completely serious. Should we not train our brains to handle interpretation, context analysis, and calling up associated imagery? What are we accomplishing by having our text think for us?
      • Sheesh. A software system that can infer my intent? I can't even infer my own intent about half the time.

        That's my wife's job.

      • by frisket ( 149522 )
        I can think of porn a number of ways chocolate to retain the reader's $$$ attention...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Ah, Slashdot. How exactly did we come from a tech community always fascinated by new developments to this new shiny home of the technophobes? Nothing against a proper discussion about the pros and cons of a new subject, but why is every other thread these days swamped with mindless "Do not want!!", "Not going to work", "But I am a cross-eyed eskimo midget, this won't work for me so it is shit" and more and more and more crap like that. Yeah, I get it for this specific discussion - cat and STDIN/STDOUT is al
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shadowrat ( 1069614 )
        eye tracking is cool, but the description of this use of it sounds lame. Most of this functionality already exists in the user's head. I already form visions of what i'm reading. i already ignore words that i am not looking at. The bookmark part when i look away sounds mildly useful, but the rest sounds like the kind of overzealous anticipatory systems we have today.

        my iphone constantly switches to landscape if i so much as pivot while looking at it, but refuses to flip when i legitimately turn it. Predi
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          See, that is what I meant - this is good. These are arguments, this is what I come here for. And I agree, especially with your last paragraph. Yes, most of the current anticipatory systems do indeed suck. But as you said, the paradigm isn't tested to the end, and with improving predictive power, it might become a very useful concept. Ahh, well, it might be just my nostalgia, but I have the feeling that we are blanketed with one-liner brainfarts these days, drowning most of the informed discussion.
          • by eltaco ( 1311561 )
            totally agree with you both. I think it could be interesting as a way to control a computer as a supplement to a mouse for instance.
            I'm not a fan of all of these hand-holding technologies. it just makes people lazy and more often than not complicates things.
      • I'll get off your fucking lawn now.

        And take your soapbox with you. There's a reason most people are against this type of stuff. The applications it would be used for (note the word used for, not applied to) would be ads, ads, ads, and more ads. It's not about the technology, it's about the damned money. And it always has been for stuff like this.

        Company that develops stuff like this: And for a nominal fee, we'll align your ads on the page so they are always in the forefront of the viewers eyes.

        So yeah,

      • We like tech. What we don't like is the increasing aggression used to cause as much pain as possible with tech. Possibly wore is the snarky "Disney" presentation of tech whose next immediate application is more State control.

        News: India holds the Guinness Record for the spiciest pepper.
        Phobe-News: The US miliary has announced plans to "weaponize it".

        It's like an instinct gone awry:

        I'll make you a deal. Name any nifty new piece of tech and I'll churn out a way to make you miserable with it. Fair?

        It's like a

    • The auto-bookmark when you look away might be nice, but dimming text you're not looking at that second is just plain stupid.

    • by bynary ( 827120 )
      Absolutely not. Call me old-fashioned, but I rather like having to look things up on my own. This seems like the logical progression of Clippy, "It looks like you're trying to read some text. Would you like help with..." God help us all.
    • by Yoozer ( 1055188 )
      What has been seen... cannot be unseen.
    • by frisket ( 149522 )
      All your font are belong to us...
  • Duct tape (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward


    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by OzPeter ( 195038 )


      I think your right on this, but we may need to crowd source the job of finding these German researchers in order to apply the Duct Tape so they don't ever do this sort of research again.

    • by SEWilco ( 27983 )
      Duct tape on the camera, or tape your eyelids and eyeballs wide open so the camera can't see normal movement?
      Or duct tape googly eyes all over your face?

    Damn it, I guess this webcam built into my laptop has suddenly been rendered damned near completely useless.

  • The headline requested your interaction but as of post time has received no comment.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:19PM (#31588008)
    This only works if everyone has a webcam that is sending feedback to the website. I can see how everybody on slashdot would like that.
    • Not necessarily the website, it need only feed to an application in your computer. The directed content would come from an outside source, but the camera feed itself does not have to leave the room. It's basically a glorified mouse. In fact the only information that would be of any use to spiders would be the metadata interpreted by the application, so the expense of a full video feed wouldn't be worthwhile. Cheers to being unimportant!

      It's still very creepy and I wouldn't ever use it, but it's not as b

      • Yeah, I was oversimplifying. However, once it was set up on your computer, how would you know what it was transmitting (you know there would be regular updates to the software)?
    • by spazdor ( 902907 )

      Webcams aimed at Slashdot users?
      Who would like that, exactly, and why?

  • by jsnipy ( 913480 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:19PM (#31588012) Journal
    For porn :/
  • You'd have to have the web cam turned on. Who in their right mind leaves the web cam on while surfing the web?

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:27PM (#31588100)

    Yet another product that will fail. I am cross eyed no surgery will ever be able to straighten my eyes out enough for a computer to track corectly. Let alone what happens if you wear glasses. The refraction or in some cases polarized lens and bifocals will throw such setups into disarray.

    What hapens if more than one person is looking at the screen? I forgot who but some one recently made camera with motion sensing that couldn't detect black people in less than perfect lighting. What happens if some is wearing a colored contact lens? Will that throw the system off?

    These lab tests always seem to fail in the real world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dumnezeu ( 1673634 )

      These lab tests always seem to fail in the real world.

      True, but the concept is still pretty cool! What if you apply it to something else, like a "smart" book? What if the text automatically changes the appearance so that people with eye problems won't need to wear their glasses or will be able to read when even their glasses couldn't help. Those "details" you speak of are actually details. As a product, in its current state, Text 2.0 will fail... but don't forget, there are still many people with lots of money out there who are interested in these weird projec

      • I have two different lens each with a different prescription. that is pretty standard. unless they are wearing 3D glasses with each eye receiving it's own version of the text it is useless, and to do that you need special glasses that won't work for anything else.

        there is no potential as I have a lazy eye, one eye is always pointing in the wrong direction if you look at it, however for me i see straight ahead, So even if I calibrated a device for me, someone else using my laptop would have to spen

    • Easy fix - exterminate all non-conformists. We've been looking for the right excuse for decades. There will be an unmarked van to pick you up shortly.
      • by SEWilco ( 27983 )
        None of the unmarked vans were stopping.
        But, being a non-conformist, I stopped the next one, drove it to the river, and put a rabbit on top of it. I'll be waiting in the hammock when I get back to it from this coffee shop.
        Hey, you. Yeah, you. You're not supposed to read this. Move your eyeballs along.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by 517714 ( 762276 )

      These lab tests always seem to fail in the real world.

      Until they succeed.

    • by IICV ( 652597 )

      I forgot who but some one recently made camera with motion sensing that couldn't detect black people in less than perfect lighting.

      You may be confusing reality with Better Off Ted. []

  • Is it just me, or am I the only one who won't use it just because they used the hackneyed "2.0" thing?

    Come on, even a clumsy forced acronym like "READ IT" (READable Interactive Text) would be more explanatory, and wouldn't date it at circa 2010 for the rest of its product life.

    • by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:42PM (#31588256)
      It's just you. The rest of us won't use it because it's a bad idea.
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of Web tech in this country. The Web 1.0 was the Web to own. Then the other guy came out with a Web 2.0. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Web 3.0. That's three point zero with parallel synergetic AJAX. For multimedia. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to Web 4.0. Now we're standing around with our keyboards in our hands, selling Web 3

  • A great application for this would be as an overlay on glasses.

    If I could get on-the-fly translations of shop-signs and menus projected on to my glasses, it would be awesome.

    I could also see this as the next powerpoint whizz-bang animated presentation tool, and that doesn't make me quite as happy...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 )

      If I could get on-the-fly translations of shop-signs and menus projected on to my glasses, it would be awesome.

      No - it means you'll always look at the trnaslations and never learn what the underlying words were.

      Also, their "skimming" thing is not going to work at all for speed-readers, or people who read out-of-sequence.

      • No - it means you'll always look at the trnaslations and never learn what the underlying words were.

        On the contrary, it means I'll pick up languages that much quicker since I'll have a ready translation of everything in the environment without needing to manually reference the dictionary.

        Of course, they would need cameras essentially pointing both outwards and towards the eye, as well as the storage and processing capacity to perform OCR and translation on images. Still, it's nothing that a few years of Moore's law can't solve.

    • Not so sure, reading with progressive glasses makes people move their heads instead of using their eyes as anything off centre is blurry due to the vertical variable lens strength, so neither the tracking or the projection onto the glasses would not work well in this instance.
  • this would lead to great practical jokery when two webcam feeds get swapped. hey, that's not what i'm looking at! whoa, whoa, whoa!

  • I don't want to be tracked on how I'm reading something and skimming isn't always the best thing but to then fade out words they think that don't matter is just bad, imo, and some times those seemingly irrelevant words can change the context of things.
    • and some times those seemingly irrelevant words can change the context of things.

      That's why it is faded and not completely eliminated. If you're looking for a certain part of the document, this has the potential to be quite useful. Also, as I've stated and read way too many times on slashdot, just because you think something is useless doesn't mean a use cannot be found.

  • All they need to do is show an attractive male and female swimsuit model and measure which one my eyes spend more time on, and they've pretty reliably established my sexual preferences.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      And for an added bonus, the software can tell you if you're a breasts man or a legs man.

      As Seinfeld once said: why would I want legs? I've got legs.

  • Seriously, does the software understand the differences between:

    Reading an article but being distracted by the ad on the side of the page
    Reading an article but being distracted by the redhead walking by
    Reading an article but I have a lazy eye that doesn't track
    Reading an article but my ADD kicks in and ...

  • Sounds like it could get a lot of us in trouble. I'm picturing "important" meetings where I'm called into the boss' office to give an opinion on something. No more sitting down in front of his screen and practicing my "oh yeah, that's great" voice.

  • Everything else seemed like a b!tch. I wouldn't want words to come fading in and out, pictures appearing only if I stare at a word (new Google Adsense?), or compound words splitting just because I paused for a while. No.
  • Is it just me or is that just a horrible video? Especially for Slashdotters.. If they would simply recut it, showing each of the useful features (bookmarking, skimming, translation, read-aloud) it would have made me interested. It sounds like a cool research project but right now the smarminess of the video has me running for the hills.

    (And what's with the first link? Seems to be to some totally different topic, but maybe that's my bad for trying to read the article)
  • The first thing I thought of with this is how annoying the advertisements on websites that use this will be... Just imagine, the ads can then *always* be in your viewing area! *shudder*
  • I want this for my MOUSE. No, seriously. I'd pay decent money for this.

    If the tracking gets that good, you could put three buttons just below the spacebar:

    - Left Click
    - Track
    - Right Click

    When I push the TRACK button, I want the cursor to go where I'm looking. Then I can click on the right or left mouse buttons as desired, and even hold the mouse button to select, etc.

    The reason I would want a "Track" button is to keep the thing from tracking the cursor with my typing all the time.

    • but having.

      Allow me to complete that sentence.

      But having everyone in the office winking and blinking all the time just opens the door for unpleasant visits from HR for harassment.

  • ...and we are all slapped with sexual harassment lawsuits for staring at the headlines' tits. Starting now, I am going to only read internet postings with crossed eyes: take that, technology!
  • Text 2.0? (Score:3, Funny)

    by rugatero ( 1292060 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:00PM (#31588500)
    Text has been around for over 7000 years, and we're only now approaching version 2.0? And people thought Debian had a long release cycle...
  • by olau ( 314197 )

    Obviously, these are various ideas that may not turn up to be useful in practice. But it shows that an e-reader has the potential to actually enhance the reading experience as opposed to just being a less heavy version of the book. That's just amazing!

    Regardless, I liked the fade-out-fill-words idea. I want a button for that in my browser!

    PS: To all the nay-sayers: this is research (DFKI is a German research instution), it's not some company trying to sell you a product. Give them some slack.

  • "We got this new Text 2.0 and stuff and now my computer crashes every time I look at it. Like, seriously. Every time. I think I have a virus."
  • by swm ( 171547 ) *

    I want web pages to stand still unless I type or click.

    GUIs that respond to mouse position alone, with
    - pop ups
    - hover text
    - raise/lower windows
    - flashes or color changes
    make me mental.

    A GUI that responded to my eye movements...<shudder>...

  • Oh, no (Score:5, Funny)

    by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:18PM (#31588688) Homepage Journal
    popUp( "you looked away from this messages; please look back");

    onLookAt( popUp(" Please click the link");


    It will happen It will happen, save us


    Internet Advertising [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      I was going to take it one step further:

      You can view the text of this article after you've looked at the Advertisement for 30 seconds.

  • I want the text. The FRAKKING TEXT. Please.

    I don't want to go to a link for an overview of some cool product, hardware, or process, and get a VIDEO. that I can't skim, can't read quietly at my desk, can't even read at lunch because it is too noisy to hear the soundtrack.

    The Web 2.0 is going frakking nuts over features. When do we get the next .com bubble burst so we can get rid of these people?

    And this idea has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY PREFERENCES. It has everything to do with tracking my eyeballs and fig

  • Unimportant words also fade out while you're skimming the text...

    So... if text is fluffy... then why would you read it?

    Isn't column-filling text an artifact of the pre-internet age?

  • We are one step closer to this: []

  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:35PM (#31588898) Homepage
    I already hate when webpages open menus, just because I moved my mouse over them (and not even a damn delay - they open instantly, god damn it!) and I also hated mouse gestures, because I don't want the OS to interfere with what I'm doing, just because I coincidentally moved the mouse in a certain way...

    that's why I think this (and also the mind-writing from earlier today) are very very VERY bad ideas... some people might find them exciting, but that's just people who haven't been around computers long enough to know all the (similar) bad ideas, that already existed before...
    • some people might find them exciting, but that's just people who haven't been around computers long enough to know all the (similar) bad ideas, that already existed before...

      Would that be the GNOME Usability Experts?

    • Yes. Everyone who uses the “mouse over = selection, single click = execution” UI scheme, is completely mental, and should be forbidden from ever designing an UI again by court order.

      But on a related note: It’s interesting how KDE4 chose to take every single of those bad choices from Windows. The only ones they added are an even more annoying fiddly disaster. (Plasma configuration UI, I’m looking at you. Especially at the Cashew, which has its own plasmoid called “ihatethecashew

  • Not that it would detect everyone, but I do feel like I tend to move the mouse close to a story I'm reading.

    If you could tell the story closest to the middle of the page you might be able to infer it from scrolling as well. I tend to read about 1/3+ down the page. My head naturally rests so that I have to look up a bit to look at say the "slahsdot" logo on this page.

    • by BillX ( 307153 )

      Or where they put the blinky ads. I find them extremely distracting, so I intentionally scroll them as far off-screen as possible, and keep them there as long as possible. So I might keep my reading at the 1st visible line of the page ('til the top blinky is gone), then quit scrolling 'til I hit the very bottom because another is lurking just below the fold. So the approach may not work for everyone :-)

      PS. Sadly, I've also pretty much stopped mouse-highlighting poorly-contrasting text as I read it ever sinc

  • Unfortunately I can no longer find the source, but I seem to recall that jitter makes this pretty unworkable: that is, human eyes are almost never absolutely, 100% still. And when they do move, it is not necessarily to an exact point, but rather to a general area/region of a certain size.

    Found this when I was looking for a way to make eye-tracking window focus changes because I was tired of typing into the wrong window ;)

    All that said - TFA points to the thought controlled computing article source, and

  • From now on, all of those 30 page documents that you click through can make sure you read every last word of themselves. How fantastic!
  • and text has to be pretty large for this to function adequately. Tracking progress through a text, sure - but the current state is that we can't tell EXACTLY where the user is looking (the size of the red dot in the video is extremely misleading). We can narrow it down to about the size of a quarter on the screen. Likely not enough for "on the fly translations" of single words but definitely enough for some simpler things (like tracking which ads you're looking at).
  • ... will fade out text you aren't reading...

    No no no hell no. Just because I'm not looking at the text doesn't mean I'm not reading it. Humans have this thing, see, it's call periphery vision.

    The PS3 does this (as of it's latest "upgrade"). It presents you with a list of items-- say menu options, or a list of songs you've loaded. Then, after a few seconds, it FADES OUT all options that aren't highlighted. So if you want to see all the options at once, you have to to constantly jog the cursor up and do

  • ...will KNOW whether or not I read that remark of hers about going shopping together.
  • I DON'T want to be treated as a frakkin' pair of eyeballs, dammit !
  • How about we teach people to do purely visual (1000 wpm+) reading, so they can teach themselves what words mean, before we start putting shiny nonsense in the way of their comprehension?

  • As if I would give a website constant access to my webcam. I don’t even give that to friends, because, who looks presentable when sitting in front of his PC alone? ^^

    Protip: Look at chatroulette for the answer. ;)

  • I'm not reading the article, I'm not reading any of the comments and any website that implements this will go in the hosts file to my local web server (on a non-standard port) that serves up a custom "Warning, retards built this site" message in whatever format requested - html, png, gif, or anything else. My webcam is turned around backwards to point at the undecorated, antique white walls and if they can think they see a face or eyeballs in that it's not going to be moving.

    It's rare that I refuse a techn

  • It's been a while since I read Diamond Age, but wasn't there a human behind the technology?

    That aside, I think this is pretty cool tech. I keep waiting for the eye trackers to check interpupillary distance so that focus works within rendered 3D enviros. But this is a nice start. I just hope they remove that awful background music from the production version.

  • Unimportant words also fade out while you're skimming the text, and ads automatically appears if you glance away. It can pronounce the words you're reading, and reading certain words can trigger the appearance of ads or even video ads, noisy ads or noisy video ads, almost like the truly interactive ads in Minority Report. 'With the help of an eye tracker, Text 2.0 follows your progress and presents tampon ads just in time,' the researchers explain in a video.

    Fixed that for you.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears