A new patent filed by Microsoft describes a system that would allow users to enter text into a computing device using eye-tracking software. Imagine using a device like Google Glass and being able to type out entire sentences just by looking at the letters you want to use. B-R-A-N-D-O-N. That might not seem like a practical way to communicate in the age of virtual keyboards, but imagine the difference it could make for someone who is unable to use his or her hands.
Eye-typing techniques are currently on the brink of making a real breakthrough. As Microsoft’s patent describes, today’s options are slow and typically requirer a user to fix his or her gaze on a specific key for a long period of time. Microsoft’s solution would speed the process up through a combination of pattern recognition and by gathering samples.
By gathering a plurality of gaze samples taken from an initiation of eye-typing until an indiction that the user has finished eye-typing, and then processing the plurality of gaze samples together, entire words may be processed at one time. This may allow the user to fixate on each key for a relatively short amount of time.
The existence of a patent is never a guarantee we’ll see a final product. But with Microsoft supposedly working on a VR headset, perhaps we’ll see the company’s eye-tracking trickery show up sooner rather than later.