Will Israeli Tech Power Apple’s Eye Tracking Features?
Whenever rumors about new iPhones abound, they tend to focus on what tech advances those phones will include. The latest spate of (persistent) rumors on an upcoming Apple release feature technology developed by an Israeli company, uMoove, which allows devices to respond to the movement of a user’s eyes and face.
Called eye-tracking, the technology is already available to an extent in Samsung’s Galaxy S4 device. With the S4, users can pause a video by looking away from the screen while it’s playing. The phone “knows” when to pause playback because of the eye-tracking technology built into it; if the front-facing camera detects that a user’s eyes have moved, the video stops playback.
Startup uMoove’s technology, detecting eye movements and “gentle head movements” to control apps and phone functions, is far more ambitious, and its API (application programming interface) is open to all phone manufacturers and app developers. For a while there were rumors that uMoove was the company supplying the Samsung device with its movement technology, but those seem to have died down since the S4 was released last spring.
In practice, the video-stopping feature is only a very basic use of eye and head tracking — something uMoove would like to see as a standard feature on many phones, and employed by many apps, company officials said in interviews last March. To that end, the company developed a toolkit for developers, which has been in closed beta for several months. Although the company has not said who is using the toolbox or what they are using it for, it is supposed to be a lot more robust and capable than that which Samsung has already offered.