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18 October 2023

Eye-Tracking Technology Will Revolutionize Human-Computer Interaction

By Bobby Carlton
AVP Interior

In 2016 Google acquired a company focused on eye-tracking technology. Since then the technology has improved and could play a vital role in Enterprise. FS Studio Principal Software Engineer, Lloyd Moore played a role in bringing this technology forward.

In 2016 Google acquired the then startup, Eyefluence, a pioneering company that specializing in eye-tracking technology, set out on a mission to reshape the landscape of human-computer interaction, particularly within augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) devices.  

Fast forward to 2023 and eye-tracking technology has greatly improved, and businesses are looking at the technologies potential to significantly improve various aspects of enterprise in the future. As this technology continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. 

One company is Apple, who recently announced their Apple Vision Pro which will have both hand tracking and eye tracking technology built into the headset, and looking at how eye-tracking could potentially give MR headsets a big boost in adoption not only for enterprise, but for consumers as well.

To learn more about  the potential of eye-tracking technology, we need to take a step into the past and look at the early work completed by Eyefluence. This article will delve into Eyefluence’s journey, highlighting the critical role played by FS Studio Principal Software Engineer, Lloyd Moore, in developing the groundbreaking eye-tracking system. 

Project Overview 

Eyefluence’s primary objective was to create an innovative system that harnessed the natural movements of the human eye, allowing users to interact with digital interfaces more intuitively and efficiently than conventional methods such as tapping or swiping. The project aimed to enable users to control computers and devices by simply looking at specific points, eliminating the need for physical pointing devices. Moreover, the technology also incorporated foveated rendering, optimizing resource utilization by rendering high-resolution graphics only where the user was currently looking. 

Lloyd Moore, who then served as Software Engineer on the project, played a pivotal role in achieving these goals.  

At Eyefluence I served as a software engineer involved in the research and development of eye tracking systems used inside virtual reality headsets,” said Moore, adding, “the primary goal of the project was to develop a system whereby the eyes could be used in place of, or in conjunction with, a conventional computer pointing device (such as a mouse) to control the operation of the computer. An additional use for the technology was to enable foveated rendering of the scene such that high resolution rendering was only done specifically where the user was looking.” 

“In particular I was responsible for low level management of the eye tracking cameras, capture and compression of the video stream, and transport of the video stream through the various system layers with minimal latency. Part of this work involved custom Linux kernel drivers and modifications to the Video4Linux system to minimalize overall system latency.” 

Eyefluence’s Breakthrough Technology 

Eyefluence’s technology went beyond conventional eye-tracking systems by interpreting not just the direction of gaze but also the user’s intent. Users could seamlessly interact with smart glasses, VR, AR, and MR devices, performing actions typically done with physical input methods, but with the simplicity of eye movements. This technology eliminated the need for waiting, winking, or other deliberate actions, allowing users to accomplish tasks effortlessly and naturally. 

Jim Marggraff, CEO and founder of Eyefluence, emphasized the significance of this innovation at the time, stating, “Eyefluence enables a radically new form of human-computer interaction that is natural and intuitive.” This technology has the potential to unleash the full capabilities of head-mounted display (HMD) technology. 

These days, Marggraff, who is also the inventor of Leap Frog’s Leap Pad, is the CEO of KiBeam, a company focused on closing the reading gap for young learners.

Addressing User Interface Challenges 

Many companies were entering the smart glasses and HMD market, but most faced the challenge of awkward and unnatural user interfaces. Eyefluence addressed this issue by partnering with consumer electronics companies, mobile companies, and HMD manufacturers, offering a comprehensive eye-interaction solution. This solution encompassed hardware design, proprietary eye-tracking algorithms, and a groundbreaking vision-driven iUiTM interaction model. 

Eye-Tracking Technology
Eye-Tracking Technology

Here are some ways it can benefit businesses: 

User Experience Design: 

Eye tracking can be used to gather data on how users interact with digital interfaces, websites, and applications. This data can help businesses design more user-friendly and intuitive interfaces, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction and increased engagement. 

Market Research: 

Eye-tracking technology can be used in market research to gain insights into consumer behavior. By tracking where people look in a physical store, on a product display, or in advertisements, companies can optimize their marketing strategies and improve product placement. 

Training and Development: 

In enterprise settings, eye tracking can be used for training and skill development. For example, in fields such as healthcare or manufacturing, eye tracking can help employees improve their attention to critical details and follow standardized procedures. 

Employee Productivity and Well-being: 

Eye-tracking can be used to monitor employee well-being and productivity. By tracking eye movements, companies can identify signs of fatigue and stress, helping to create a safer and healthier work environment. 

Human-Computer Interaction: 

In the future, eye tracking could enhance human-computer interaction. This might involve using eye tracking for more intuitive and efficient navigation within complex software or to control and interact with digital systems hands-free, making tasks more efficient. 

Accessibility: 

Eye tracking can improve accessibility for people with disabilities. It can enable individuals with limited mobility to control computers and communicate more effectively, thus promoting inclusivity in the workplace. 

Remote Work: 

As remote work becomes more prevalent, eye-tracking technology can help monitor and optimize remote workers’ productivity and well-being. It can also enhance virtual collaboration by enabling gaze-based communication cues during video conferences. 

Security: 

Eye tracking can be used for biometric security and authentication, providing an extra layer of protection for enterprise systems and sensitive data. 

Advertising and Marketing: 

Eye tracking can help advertisers and marketers understand how consumers respond to advertisements, enabling them to create more effective and engaging campaigns. 

Virtual and Augmented Reality: 

Eye tracking is crucial for enhancing the realism and immersion in virtual and augmented reality experiences. In enterprise settings, this can improve training simulations, design reviews, and remote collaboration in virtual environments. 

Healthcare: 

In the healthcare sector, eye tracking technology can assist in diagnosing neurological and psychological conditions, tracking patient progress, and helping individuals with communication disabilities interact with medical professionals. 

Gaming and Entertainment: 

Eye tracking technology can be integrated into gaming and entertainment experiences, providing a more interactive and immersive user experience. 

Where Does Eye-Tracking Go From Here?

In 2016, Google saw how eye-tracking technology has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of enterprise by providing valuable insights, improving efficiency, enhancing user experiences, and expanding the range of applications across multiple industries.  

In 2023, eye-tracking technology has advanced significantly, becoming a crucial component of various industries and applications. It has found its way into consumer devices, enhancing the user experience of virtual and augmented reality, as well as gaming by enabling more natural interactions. Moreover, eye tracking has become an indispensable tool in market research, healthcare, and accessibility, enabling in-depth insights into human behavior and cognitive processes.  

According to a Grand View Research paper published in 2022, eye-tracking technology is expected to grow significantly by 2030. Stating, “the increasing use of smart sensors for process control and decision making and the rising demand for contactless biometrics coupled with the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) in consumer electronics & other commercial applications areas are expected to drive the market growth significantly. The industry has been gaining prominence due to the increasing adoption of the vision capturing technology in commercial spaces, particularly in industries and sectors including retail, healthcare, research, automotive, consumer electronics, government & defense, and security & surveillance.”

Grand View Market eye-tracking Research

Its importance lies in its ability to gather valuable data for improving product design, medical diagnostics, and user interface development, ultimately leading to more efficient and user-friendly technology. As eye tracking technology continues to evolve, it promises to reshape the way we interact with and understand the world around us. 

As eye-tracking technology continues to advance, its impact on enterprise will become even more profound. 

Lloyd Moore is a Principal Software Engineer at FS Studio and has worked on projects that include Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit, Microsoft, and is CEO of Cyberdata Corporation.