Microsoft Patents An Eye Tracking System To Create An User Profile From What Users Are Looking At

Microsoft has been recently focusing on the Internet of Things and augmented reality. Back in January, the company revealed its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens – which blew everyone away.  However, the HoloLens is an under-development project, and Microsoft will surely improve the headset over the coming months. Now, the company has recently patented a new Eye Tracking technology.

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Various attempts have been made to assist users in utilizing computing resources. For instance, user search queries and selections of results can be stored to try to customize future searches. However, these attempts offer very little insight into the user beyond knowing what the user typed and clicked. In this patent, Microsoft describes a system which tracks what users are looking into to create a profile which can be used to customize their future searches.

Microsoft Eye Tracking Patent

For example, an user is at a zoo. The user’s eyes can be tracked at the zoo. In this case, the user looked at a jaguar in an enclosure and then the user looked at an information plate that identifies the animal as a jaguar from Central and South America. These visualizations (e.g., what the user looked at) can be associated with metadata, such as the location (e.g., zoo, which zoo in which city, etc.), date, time, and/or who the user was with, among others. This visualization information can be added to the user’s memory-mimicking user profile.

Eye Tracking Patent

The user subsequently enters a search query for “jaguar images” on the user’s computing device. In this case, the visualization information in the memory-mimicking user profile can be used to determine (e.g., disambiguate) that the user likely wants to see images of the `jaguar animal` rather than a `jaguar car` or a `jaguar sports team,` for instance. Stated another way, the visualization information that the user recently went to the zoo and looked at a jaguar can be utilized to customize the user’s computing experience.

This eye-tracking is not limited to just physical objects, it also includes digital content. If an user was looking at an images of some flowers in a screen, when he goes back to do search about flowers on his PC or mobile phone, this system can provide search results based on the flowers he saw earlier.

This patent also describes about privacy controls for eye-tracking,

The user’s privacy can be protected by only enabling visualization features upon the user giving their express consent. All privacy and security procedures can be implemented to safeguard the user. For instance, the user may provide an authorization (and/or define the conditions of the authorization) on device. The device only proceeds with eye tracking the user according to the conditions of the authorization. Otherwise, user information is not gathered. Similarly, the user can be allowed to define the use of his/her memory-mimicking user profile that includes visualization data. Any use of the memory-mimicking user profile has to be consistent with the defined user conditions.

This Eye Tracking technology could be used to make things much easier on devices such as the HoloLens. So for example, if a user is looking at a product, the technology will be able to give more information on that specific product – this is exactly what Google is reportedly planning to do with the next-gen Google Glass.

What do you think of Microsoft’s latest patent? Discuss in the comment section below!

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