Apple owns several patents relating to eye tracking and motion control of an iPhone or iPad, and a new startup is offering eye tracking and head tracking control for iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone.
The company offers a software only solution for eye and head tracking that controls an iOS device. This would offer the potential for a new eye tracking control feature on the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 if support is also added to iOS 7.
The company is will offer the eye tracking experience to Apple and other device makers, and tells the NY Times that the experience needs broad adoption to convince developers to build in support for eye and motion tracking control in popular apps.
While it remains to be seen how fast consumers will adopt to controlling a smartphone with their eyes and heads, if the use cases in this video arrive on the Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 6, it’s possible that meetings in 2013 and 2014 will feature much more nodding and head movements.
uMoove shows off eye and head motion control of a Samsung Galaxy S3, an Android tablet, and an iPad. An iPhone sits in the center of the table. The users in the video can perform the following tasks using only their eyes.
- Variable scrolling speed
- Video Auto Pause
- Accurate Control
- Live Gaming
- Hands Free control and selection
- 360 degree navigation
The technology even works with Sunglasses, in the dark and with eyes only.
This separate video shows off how a user could use this technology to interact with an iPhone, Android phone or a tablet.
This type of technology would allow users to do more on a phone, possibly the iPhone 6, without actually touching the device. Many of these features could arrive on the Samsung Galaxy S4, a new phone that launches on March 14th in New York City.
Apple already owns a patent on a 3D eye-tracking interface that can detect eye movements and deliver a fake 3D display. This isn’t quite eye tracking control, but it would require precise eye tracking technology. The company also owns a patent on a Kinect like motion control system for a mobile device.
Apple purchased AuthenTec in 2012, which is the most likely source of technology that would put a fingerprint reader behind the iPhone 5S home button, according to the recent rumors. If Apple needs to supplement their patents with real world tech, perhaps we will see some type of partnership or purchase of uMoove or a similar company
Because this is a software solution, a company like Apple may be able to squeeze the feature into the rumored iPhone 5S without any major hardware changes. The company would likely also need to add in support on iOS 7, the rumored next version of iOS software.
Apple’s tick-tock release cycle means that the iPhone 5S will likely offer small advantages over the iPhone 5, so it is possible such a big change would come on an iPhone 6 model instead, even without the need for additional hardware.
Rumors point to an iPhone 5S with a similar design and several small features arriving between June and August of this year. iPhone 6 rumors peg an arrival in late 2013, or more likely in 2014. Many iPhone 6 features are unknown, but we are already seeing concepts involving larger screens, no home button and supply chain murmors of wireless charging for the iPhone 6.