Tuesday, June 18, 2013

After years of staring at our phone screens, they will soon be staring right back at us

Touch screen phones may seem like the most necessary invention since sliced bread, and our lives are about to get even easier. Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy S4 in March which demonstrated finger-free scrolling and video control.  Move your eyes down the screen as you read an article, the phone recognizes your eye movement and scrolls down for you.  Watch a YouTube video but get distracted and look away from your device? No worries, the phone will recognize that you have looked away and will pause the video until it recognizes that your eyes are back on the screen.  Battery saving is also a benefit as the screen will dim when you look away from the device. 

Like every new software, eye tracking certainly has its pros and cons.  I, for example, could see myself annoyed with the video pausing. While at times it may be beneficial to have the video pause when we avert our eyes, I would like to feel allowed to avert my eyes away from “David after Dentist” for even a brief moment if necessary without the video pausing.  When wanting to only listen to a certain song on Youtube and not watch the actual music video is another instance in which the pausing capability would not come in handy.

Google is also planning to incorporate Eye-tracking software in Google Glass.  Their latest patent will allow users to unlock using eye tracking technology. By simply moving their eyes, the users are able to unlock their Google Glass.  According to their patent, the Glass would display some sort of moving object (such as a bird flying across the screen) and then track your eye movement, if everything is correct, it would unlock your screen (Mashable).  Google Glass is a hands-free device and is the perfect case study for eye tracking software.

(Photo: http://mashable.com/2013/06/04/google-glass-eye-tracking/)

So where’s Apple in all of this?

Apple is right on track with their own eye tracking software.  AppleInsider has made note that Apple has begun patents regarding eye tracking software as early as 2008.  Apple’s most recent 2013 patent includes statements such as: 
“When the electronic device detects that the user’s gaze is no longer directed towards the device, the electronic device may enter one of the standby modes, dim the display screen that was being used for the video playback operation.If desired, the electronic device may resume video playback operation when it detects that the user has redirected their gaze towards the electronic device (e.g., towards the video screen” (Today’s iPhone).

Sounds a little too familiar? Another Samsung vs. Apple battle is most likely in our future. Time will only tell when more information about the next iPhone leaks on how Apple is putting their usual twist and improvement to existing software. Until then, I’ll continue my workout regimen of scrolling through and unlocking my iPhone manually. 

No comments:

Post a Comment