Apple has been granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office, which deals with an eye-tracking technology. First spotted by AppleInsider, the eye-tracking technology will be used to control certain user interfaces on future Mac, iPhones and iPads. Also Read - Meet Indian developer who wins Apple Design award for his music app NaadSadhana
Some devices including Amazon’s Fire Phone already boast eye-tracking technology, but one of the issues affecting such devices is a phenomenon called “Troxler’s Fading.” This effect is an optical illusion of sorts wherein objects in the periphery tend to disappear when a user focuses on a particular part of the screen. Also Read - iPad Mini for 2021 to ditch fat bezels, could bring along new Apple Pencil Mini
The patent filed by Apple mentions how its technology will counteract the Troxler Effect. It will essentially continuously track the user’s eye movement and blinking to estimate when he/she is likely to lose track of the cursor. The technology will then automatically move the cursor to bring it back to visibility. Also Read - iOS 4 is now available again on modern iPhones, complete with Home button: How to get it
“In one configuration, altering the position of the movable indicator may include providing a command to an input device driver that prompts the GUI to render the movable indicator at a position in the GUI different from the position associated with the user’s point of gaze within the GUI. In this manner, data from an input device to the input device driver may be preempted such that the measure for counteracting the perceptual fading of the movable indicator is implemented without action on behalf of the user.”
While it doesn’t delve deep into the practical purposes of the technology, the patent does mention how future iOS devices and Macs will use their in-built camera to track users’ eye movements, and use it control onscreen elements like say a cursor. In other words, future devices could let you control the cursor with your gaze. As with patents though, we will have to wait for some time till we see the technology on Apple’s devices.