Touch screen interfaces have been on the ascendancy for a number of years with smartphones and tablets cementing their desirability with the general public. Microsoft engaged in a very controversial UI change of the Windows OS to cater for this very same fat finger interactivity. Now a couple of new developments on the horizon look to popularise a new form of UI interactivity by monitoring a user’s eye movements. The NUIA eyeCharm uses a Microsoft Kinect with a hardware add-on and extra software to deliver eye-tracking interactivity on PCs. The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S4 is also hotly rumoured to bring eye tracking and finger waving interactivity to the Android smartphone market.
A recently launched Kickstarter project, brought to my attention by TechCrunch, aims to bring eye tracking UI interactivity to the masses with a relatively cheap way to get eye tracking technology integrated into your PC setup. 4titoo have designed the NUIA eyeCharm upon the Microsoft Kinect hardware as it’s generally available and contains more or less the right mix of components for eye tracking hardware. To get it to work properly and watching your eyes, instead of your body, the 4titoo developers have designed a Kinect add-on which includes a lens to focus the IR sensor on your eyes. Specially written software translates this to data be meaningful to interacting with the computer as accurate cursor data.
4titoo say that rival eye tracking systems can cost between $995 and $20,000 while offering similar utility to its new solution. A $60 contribution can get you the NUIA eyeCharm and SDK, if you already have Kinect hardware, all the better. The team’s Kickstarter project has only just kicked-off and they are aiming for $100k in pledges. It looks like that should be achievable. The product and software will ship to end users at the beginning of August 2013.
Samsung Galaxy S4 eye scrolling
Rumours emerged last week that Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 would feature eye tracking technology for some UI functions. Speaking to The New York Times “a Samsung employee who spoke on condition of anonymity” said that page scrolling could be controlled by a viewer’s eyes.
There are other shreds of evidence to back up this employee statement. Samsung has filed patents for Eye Scrolling, described as “Computer application software having a feature of sensing eye movements and scrolling displays of mobile devices, namely, mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers according to eye movements; digital cameras; mobile telephones; smartphones; tablet computers.” Also an “Eye Pause” function was patented.
Times Square, New York
Samsung’s next Galaxy flagship smartphone will have impressive powerful hardware but the new software features will overshadow that aspect of the phone according to the unnamed Samsung employee. Hopefully these software and hardware details will all be revealed to us at the New York Times Square event on Thursday.