Eye-control Software for Phones, Tablets Created – Should RIM License it for BlackBerry 10?

Eye-control Software for Phones, Tablets Created – Should RIM License it for BlackBerry 10?

A Danish company hopes to clinch deals with major mobile phone and tablet makers after developing software that enables users to control their devices by moving their eyes.

“You can use it for basic control, such as turning to the next page in an e-book, and playing games with your eyes,” chief executive and co-founder of The Eye Tribe, Sune Alstrup Johansen, told AFP.

The software uses infrared light reflected from the pupil of the eye, which is recorded by the device’s camera, enabling users to scroll or click on their screens with their eyes.

When you are reading an e-book and get to the bottom of the page, the software will know to turn to the next page, or if you look away from the screen it will dim it.

The Eye Tribe is made up of four PhD students who founded the company a year ago. They received $800,000 (615,000 euros) in funding in August to develop the technology.

The company plans to release the technology at no cost to other software developers early next year, Alstrup Johansen said.

“We are releasing software developing kits to developers so they can actually start developing applications. We intend to give it away, it won’t cost anything,” he said.

“We do not intend to develop all apps ourselves, we are allowing the (software) community to develop apps,” he said.

Alstrup Johansen said Eye Tribe aims to get their software integrated in the hardware of big tablet producers, so consumers can buy a tablet with the software and then download apps that run with the eye control technology.

The Eye Tribe aims to earn money from licensing fees from companies producing the hardware or platforms, such as RIM, Apple, Samsung, Google or Microsoft.

Cameras on current mobile devices still need to be connected to a small unit with an infrared camera to work with the software, but Alstrup Johansen said next-generation devices would very likely be able to use the software.

“At the moment, if people want to use the software, they need an additional device that has either been added to a current smartphone or tablet, or a new hardware device that is not yet on the market,” he said.

The technology is expected to significantly change the way users play games and use apps, said John Paulin Hansen, a former PhD supervisor for the four co-founders.

“I am convinced that it will radically change things. It will be a completely hands-free interaction with mobile devices,” he said.

“The most interesting effect will be for all kinds of games, education and entertainment purposes,” he said, adding that disabled people would also benefit greatly.

The Eye Tribe’s new eye-control software sounds like a perfect match for the innovativeness of BlackBerry 10. Do you think RIM should utilize The Eye Tribe’s software?

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