Web Browsing without a Mouse
Eye-tracking user interface could provide an alternative
Source: “EyePoint: Practical Pointing and Selection Using Gaze and Keyboard”
Manu Kumar et al.
CHI 2007, April 28-May 3, 2007, San Jose, CA
Results: Stanford University PhD student Manu Kumar has developed an easy-to-use alternative to the computer mouse: a system that allows a person to point, click, and perform everyday mouse actions by looking at a computer’s monitor and tapping a key on its keyboard.
Why it matters: User interfaces that use eye-tracking technology have been around for many years and are sometimes used by disabled people. But so far, they haven’t been easy enough to use to displace existing technologies.
Methods: The technology uses standard eye-tracking hardware: embedded in the bezel of a computer monitor are infrared light sources and a camera that captures both the movement of the user’s pupil and the reflection of the infrared light off his or her cornea. The user looks at, say, a Web link and then depresses a “hot key” on the keyboard. The area of the screen that’s being looked at becomes magnified. Then the user narrows his or her focus within the magnified region and releases the hot key, effectively clicking through to the link.
Next step: In studies in which participants were asked to type using the keyboard but move the cursor using the eye-tracking system, Kumar recorded an error rate close to 20 percent. He says many errors occur when users think they are focusing on a target that’s actually in their peripheral vision, and the eye-tracking technology instead picks up the area they’re really looking at. Kumar has developed algorithms to compensate for these errors.