The Bulletin

This app pauses video if you look away from the screen

Posting in Design

Say you’re watching Game of Thrones clips on your phone during a long bus commute, and someone starts talking to you. A new app promises to pause your video when you look away, so you won’t miss a single moment.

Last week, a California startup called Cube26 launched a free “gesture-controlled” video player for iOS devices. Called LookAway Player, the app displays video content based your attention: disengage to pause, redirect your eyes to continue where you left off.

The gaze tracking technology utilizes the front-facing VGA camera in iPhones and iPads to read your eye and body movements. It also has a ‘Shh! to Mute’ feature: shush the phone by putting your index finger to your lips.

Its pause feature will become a native ‘Smart Pause’ experience in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4.

“For device control to be useful, we believe that it has to closely mimic what comes naturally to people,” Cube26 CEO Saurav Kumar tells Co.Design. “The device needs to be able to get some things done without having to specify explicitly those actions.”

Cube26, formerly PredictGaze, is one of a slew of companies betting that touch-free controls will be the next big thing. Their technology combines gaze detection, gesture recognition, and facial-feature recognition to create more natural ways to control everything from your TV to your car, Technology Report explains.

No rewinding, no shuffling around for the remote. Touch-free controls might make us even lazier couch potatoes… but they could also prevent your kid from watching adult content on TV, log you out of websites when someone else uses your iPad, and determine if you’re starting to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Watch a video on Cube26’s natural controls (with a scene from Titanic) here.

As for advertisers, gaze tracking tech could help determine when people look at content to gauge consumer interest.

[Via Fast Company, Technology Review]

Image: LookAway Player via iTunes

— By on April 19, 2013, 6:57 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure