Computers are becoming more and more ubiquitous. What does ubiquitous mean? Nowadays we are able to produce tiny computers which can be integrated into several devices of daily use. So, computers are entering our daily life without our knowledge and are moving out of our perception. Today, many people have smartphones, a standard car has 100 integrated microprocessors and even the coffee machine is controlled by a small computer. However, we do not perceive all these machines any more. The paradox is, that the less we perceive these computers, the more they know about us. Because, if we connect our smartphone with the car and the coffee machine, a lot of information is collected about our daily life.
What is really astonishing is, that the interaction between humans and these ubiquitous computers is still linked with a display, a keyboard and a mouse device. The latest interaction technique is are touch pads, but in most cases, we are still interacting with computers in a very machine-friendly way. We are adapting to the computers and not vice versa. This should be changed in the 21st century!
The argumentation is very straight forward: I guess you are reading this text on your computer screen, on your tablet or smartphone? Imaging, this device in front of you would have an integrated eye tracking device. Then, it could detect, if your eyes are looking on the screen. Additionally, it could find out which words you are exactly focusing on. If you do not focus on the screen for a longer time duration, the computer could assume, that your attention is elsewhere. We are convinced that this technology will be integrated in many digital assistants in the future.
Eye tracking opens the door to many new exciting possibilities: Cars could detect, if you would have seen the pedestrian who is crossing the road in front if you, avatars in virtual reality could communicate with us in a far more realistic fashion and robots could “perceive”, if the workers would have seen them.
The hardware is ready and waiting for its use. The sensors have the size of a matchbox and have become relatively cheap. What is still missing, are the algorithms to interpret the human eye movements. When these algorithms have been realized, the door will open to new further exciting technologies using eye tracking as well as to new business models based on “perceptual information”.
About the author
Dr. Michael Raschke is Co-Founder and managing director of Blickshift GmbH and an expert for a visualization-based eye movement analysis. Michael is convinced, that one key for the realization of ubiquitous computing systems lies in a deep understanding of human behavior by computers.
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