Posted by: shoji | September 16, 2007

Mind sight

Eyes are an expressive organ that reveals much about a person; we know this intuitively by observing faces. Think about a typical movie scene where a detective interrogates a guilty suspect: what do the eyes do? How about a scene between lovers?

“The eye is a window to the brain.”

Scientists have been studying eye movements for many years. On a simple level, “attention” is measured by where one’s eyes focus. If you look around the room, you’ll notice that your eyes do not smoothly negotiate the scene like a panning camera. Instead, your eyes jump from object of focus to another object. (These are called saccades.)

What can you do with eye tracking?

For example, web designers and advertisers use special eye-tracking cameras to examine how people look at websites. This is used to measure the effectiveness of layout and ads. (The longer you look at an ad, the better; in some cases, ads are completely ignored.) Scientists have also studied gamers and their abilities to locate objects compared to non-gamers.

In the past, eye-tracking hardware was bulky and had the stereotypical look of a “science experiment”. Now, with improved computer-electronic hardware and software, eye-tracking will be going mainstream. Partially, this will be do to advances in image analysis (catch up on my previous thread here).

I can imagine an eye-tracking interface for gamers to aim-and-shoot even faster than their mouse movements permit (taking WiiMote to the eyeMote extreme). Or for conspiracy theorists, Google and Apple team up to use the built-in iSight for getting even more user data on the effectiveness of their ads.

Microsoft is working on putting cameras directly behind the display– for tracking “touch”. Currently, the prototype Microsoft Surface uses infrared camera to track people’s touch (see mocking video from Sarcastic Gamer below).

There is another major advantage of cameras being placed directly behind the display: the videoconferencing experience is much more natural when the participants look into each others eyes– which is not possible with the current placement of webcams.  It’s just a matter of time.

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Science — Mind sight
The first monitor depicts the same Web pages Davis is looking at, with a pair of moving green dots showing where on the screen her eyes are focused. The second monitor displays dials recording pupil dilation and brain activity, the needles rising or falling with Davis’ mental interest; and graphs measuring how much light is entering her eyes, the data dropping briefly to zero when she blinks.

At first glance, the scene does not appear remarkable, but Marshall and others suggest it is a glimpse of the future, one that will be seen – and analyzed – through the eyes.

Marshall, Davis and colleagues are part of a relatively new field of research that uses eye-tracking technologies to change the way we see, understand and relate to the world.

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Responses

  1. […] miester wrote;Microsoft is working on putting cameras directly behind the display– for tracking “touch”. Currently, the prototype Microsoft Surface uses infrared camera to track people’s touch (see mocking video from Sarcastic Gamer below). … […]


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