Will the Mouse Go Away?
Technology Review (03/02/07) Greene, Kate
An easy-to-operate user interface that tracks eye movement has been developed as an alternative to the computer mouse by Stanford University doctoral student Manu Kumar. "Eye-tracking technology was developed for disabled users, but the work that we're doing here is trying to get it to a point where it becomes more useful for able-bodied users," Kumar notes. The core component of Kumar's technology is EyePoint software that requires a person to stare at an item and hold a "hot key," which triggers magnification of the area being looked at. Once the user pinpoints her focus in the enlarged area and releases the hot key, the item is opened. Kumar wrote an the algorithm to compensate for the natural jitter of the user's pupil, and he says the elimination of cursor control is one the interface's advantages. By combining eye and hand movement, the interaction becomes more natural. Around 90 percent of the project participants who tested the EyePoint interface said it was preferable to the mouse, although a 20 percent error rate could be problematic, according to MIT Media and Arts Technology Laboratory professor Ted Selker. Although Shumin Zhai of the IBM Almaden Research Center says Kumar's work is important, he acknowledges the need for users to undergo a calibration process in which the EyePoint software measures the rapidity of their eye movement.