Advertisers are infamous for their relentless attempt to learn even the most mundane details about your life in the hopes of selling you something.
But there is one thing that’s always eluded them: your physical reaction to their efforts. Whether a billboard, banner, or mobile ad, advertisers have had to rely on other indicators to know whether they’ve successfully grabbed your attention.
Unfortunately, this may be coming to an end. Advances in eye tracking technologies will soon make it possible for the ads you look at to watch you right back. As the next generation of computing turns to the eyes, a whole new world of interaction and control is becoming possible – along with entirely new methods of invasive data collection and tracking.
The same technologies that will make playing Fruit Ninja with your eyes a reality will also allow advertisers to monitor and measure everything you look at. As UCLA Professor John Villasenor explained in his piece on the issue for Slate, “Today, when we read something online, our thoughts are still our own. We should enjoy it while it lasts.”
Once a set of technologies used for assisting the disabled, eye tracking is quickly moving from the lab to mainstream applications. In its most high profile, albeit gimmicky, release yet, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with “Smart Scroll” and “Smart Pause” features that let you (somewhat) move the screen up and down and pause videos with the movement of your eyes. Reviews of the phone haven’t been great – but there seems to be a lot of interest in the feature itself.