Eye-tracking technology as the future of human-computer interaction

Eye-tracking technology is being used for research and industrial applications and will improve right along with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems and become the basis for human-computer interaction

By AIA August 27, 2019

Eye-tracking technology is proving itself useful for both research and science. A person’s eyes can reflect their thoughts and behavior. Subconscious eye movements and pupil size provide information on a person’s concentration and mental workload. Soon, companies will be able to offer more customized and detailed experiences by using eye-tracking technology.

How eye-tracking technology works

Computer vision systems can be trained to track movements of the eye. When reading a page in a book, all of the text may appear sharp, but in reality, the eye is only capable of focusing on a word or two at any moment. The brain provides the illusion of high detail everywhere by having the eyes dart around.

The darting motion is called a saccade. A saccade can offer insight into what we are focusing on at any given moment. The eye also makes certain movements when tracking an object, such as a moving car or a football. The eyes make small corrections without a person noticing.

The most common eye-tracking approach uses tiny video cameras pointed directly at the eyes. Computer vision software processes the video in real-time to ascertain what a subject is focused on. Other methods use tiny infrared LEDs to create reflections on the cornea and figure out the person’s focus.

Benefits of eye-tracking technology

Movie directors hope to have their audience focused on what they intend to show in each shot. Visual and user interface (UI) designers try to design websites and software that lead our gaze so that we notice the most important elements first. Eye-tracking technology can ensure the test audience’s eyes go where content creators wish.

If virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems can have a person focused on specific elements, less energy, cost, and weight would be required. Some other ideas for eye-tracking technology include glasses that can change their prescription from near to far based on what a person is looking at; a pair of glasses could use embedded vision technology to detect a person is attempting to read something far away and magnify the view.

Many companies want to use eye-tracking technology to improve marketing decisions. A simple action like scanning the shelves at the grocery store can indicate what is noticed about product details. Driver assistance systems can detect if a person is not paying attention or is falling asleep by tracking eye movements.

This article originally appeared in Vision Online. AIA is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

Original content can be found at www.visiononline.org.