Researchers Develop EyeMU Tech That Lets You Control Your Phone With Your Eyes

cmu eyemu eye tracking tech on mobile phones
Eye-tracking is not necessarily a new technology; it's been used by gamers and content creators with products like those from Tobii. However, Carnegie Mellon University researchers have taken this tech and brought it to the mobile device space with a tool called EyeMU, "which allows users to execute operations on a smartphone by combining gaze control and simple hand gestures."

As phones have gotten larger and more capable, and content consumption has increased, many users have found that they "frequently require a second hand or voice commands to operate — which can be cumbersome and inconvenient." Thus, when researchers at CMU, like doctoral student Karan Ahuja, asked, "Is there a more natural mechanism to use to interact with the phone?" they found that gaze analysis and prediction could be the answer. However, there was no real feasible implementation of this on a mobile device, so the team dug in.

In their research, the team found that "The eyes have what you would call the Midas touch problem," according to associate professor and director of the Future Interfaces Group, Chris Harrison. He continued, explaining that "You can't have a situation in which something happens on the phone everywhere you look. Too many applications would open." Therefore, the team developed software that, using various algorithms and tools such as Google's Face Mesh utility, could execute gaze prediction on a mobile device fast enough to be viable.

Following this development, new features were added, such as using "the smartphone's front-facing camera to lock in what the viewer is looking at and register it as the target." This target could then be interacted with by flicking the phone, the example of which is clearing a notification that you are looking at.

With this ingenuity, the CMU research team hopes to help people worldwide use their phones more easily and effectively. In any event, let us know what you think of this eye-tracking tech in the comments below.