Researchers are hard at work on a new piece of software that stands to be a game changer for mobile devices. Teams from MIT, University of Georgia, and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics have developed a software called iTracker, and its accuracy in detecting where your eyes are looking is getting quite good.
One of the first obstacles researchers had to overcome was the very different ways we look at our mobile device screens when we’re in a lab versus out in the “real world.” That meant creating an app called GazeTracker that tested users’ eye movements both in a controlled setting and in other everyday situations. What’s truly interesting is the number of people who signed up to use GazeTracker in order to help provide the data that researchers needed to improve the function of iTracker. An estimated 1,500 or so users have provided their test feedback, but researchers believe they can improve the accuracy of iTracker down to mere millimeters with the appropriate amount of user data.
Obviously, once the required accuracy is there, this stands to be a tremendous benefit to a variety of individuals and industries. While much of the focus has been on how this can impact smartphone users–potentially eliminating some of the safety concerns involved with using things like GPS apps while driving–the real benefit stands to be in the wide variety of disability uses, especially in using tablets. As an interesting aside, the app that researchers had to develop in order to gather data on eye movements also appears to have cross-over uses in the medical field, particularly in better understanding some forms of mental illness.