By John Herrman
Posting in Design
Researchers have developed software that can authenticate users by measuring eye movements, but eye-tracking has applications far beyond security.
Beeping, flashing retinal scanners are a constant, and dare I say tired, fixture in films. And why not? They serve as convenient shorthand for wealth and technological sophistication, and their utility is easy to convey.
Rare as they may be, scanners like this do exist. But researchers in Israel have developed software that can identify individuals based on eye movement, and don't require hardware any more sophisticated than a laptop with a decent webcam. The company behind the tech, ID-U, describes how it works:
The technology is based on the uniqueness of a person's eye-movement patterns. The person to be identified (user) watches a moving target (visual stimulus) on a monitor, while a small, low-resolution camera acquires the user's eye-movement response; a processing unit, either inside the local device or remotely located at another physical site, uses both the stimuli and response to identify the user.
Assuming that ID-U's method for establishing a unique signature for each user is reliable, this could prove to be a cost-effective alternative to other biometric scanners, and could even have low-cost applications in consumer products--say, a laptop with a webcam.
ID-U's scanner is just the latest in chain of products and concepts that track eye motion. The now-defunct GUIDe program at Stanford conducted extensive research on designing user interfaces for eye-tracking software. Researchers at Dartmouth University came up with cellphone program that allowed gaze-based phone navigation earlier this year. In 2009, EU-funded COGAIN network released software to allow people without the use of their hands, or fine motor skills, to play popular computer games like World of Warcraft with simple eye gestures. Before it became the subject of experimental projects like those, eye-tracking software was in fairly wide use as a tool for the paralyzed to interact with computers.
Eye-tracking's passage into the mainstream, though, may not come though accessibility efforts or security tools. The Fraunhofer Institute recently showcased a "non-intrusive, markerless computer vision based modules for human computer interaction," which they believe will be "essential" in the design of auto-stereoscopic 3D displays, which don't require glasses. (This one among the types of displays that James Cameron believes will eventually replace current stereoscopic displays, as reported on SmartPlanet.)
The one thing all these technologies have in common, besides their ophthalmological fixations, is that they haven't really borne any fruit yet. New or old, they've been relegated to the fringes, for technological immaturity, lack of practical uses, or both.
Work by companies like ID-U, though, could usher gaze-tracking into the mainstream. It's authentication system, with a simple calibration scheme and low cost, could prove useful in wide applications--think ATM terminals and credit/debit card readers--where expensive retinal scanners, or worryingly fallible fingerprint scanners, aren't appropriate.
Nov 10, 2010
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I have "chronic divergent alternating strabismus" Makes for a VERY unique eye motion pattern, but I've been accused of "not looking" at people I've been looking straight at. If these gadgets assume both of my eyes are miovng together, I'm gonna be in for a perpetual migraine.
@viweed. Hmmm..So, you have an opinion. What does you comment have to do with the article? Other than showing your temper and temperance towards something other than the topic at hand - nothing else can be gleaned from this comment.
So, of course you write for the SF Chronicle, a piece of liberal trash. In your 'bio' you seriously imply that the "american-made software" was the cause of 28 patients being overdosed with radiation but the technicians were charged with second degree murder. You stated the case was 'ongoing'. If you felt the SOFTWARE was faulty, you would have continued your investigation to prove or disprove that 'feeling'. Obviously you did not do that. So basically you imply that AMERICAN made software is 'bad', but you do not bother to prove that, only to imply it. You are no journalist, just a californian liberal who hates her country. Why don't you move to some third-world country and keep on spewing 'implications'. You are not a journalist just a rag mag writer.
Seeing Machines has been selling in-truck devices for scanning drivers eyes for a couple of years. The cost of a dozing trucker hitting something are fairly graphic. However the real market is in the 400tonne dump trucks which cost about $5million each. Crashing one of those is pretty serious for the economics of a mine.
Diesel: does your user name mean everything has to with trucks or is there something I am missing here? Perhaps I completely missed it but what does your comment have to do with the article? Trucks and eye tracking computers. It is like me talking about bed bugs when the rest of the crowd are talking about liberal arts. There just isn't any relation but maybe a I missed it.