Skip to main content

SideWays eye-tracking prototype sees what you’re ogling while shopping

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Imagine walking down an aisle at Target and casting a glance at a big orange bag of Cheetos on the shelf. Next thing you know, an ad featuring Chester Cheetah pops up on a video monitor in the aisle. Despite the threat of cheese dust everywhere, you are unable to overcome your Cheeto lust and toss a bag in your cart, all the while wondering why the commercial appeared onscreen just as you passed the snack. A new eye-tracking device called SideWays is responsible.

Currently a prototype, SideWays can recognize several pairs of eyes. Created by Andreas Bulling of the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany, along with colleagues from the UK’s Lancaster University, SideWays can be much more than just an advertising tactic.

According to New Scientist, SideWays was unveiled this week at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris. What makes it unique among previous eye-tracking devices is its ability to track up to 14 different individuals’ eye movements. Until now, the vast majority of eye-tracking technology could only recognize one person’s eyes.

SideWays is able to track the horizontal eye movements of people of different heights, ages, and eye colors. It works by detecting the corners of your eyes and where they are in relation to your face. From here, the computer program is able to find and track your pupils. As of right now, it’s only able to track horizontal eye movement. Eventually, it will also track vertical eye movement, though it’s more difficult because the eye moves less when going up and down.

To demonstrate how SideWays works, the creators had test subjects look at a series of CD covers to engage the people and the software to recognize their eye movements. While Bulling and his colleagues believe Sideways would have immediate applications in advertising, they also believe that it could change the way people interact with displays that aren’t close enough to touch, such as a billboard in Times Square or a television.

SideWays still has a ways to go before the program is able to recognize multiple gazes at one time, but the creators are working on it. They are also working on getting the technology to properly track the eyes of people wearing glasses, which is a challenge due to the frames and the reflections that glasses can cast.

Meghan McDonough
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Meghan J. McDonough is a Chicago-based purveyor of consumer technology and music. She previously wrote for LAPTOP Magazine…
You can use Microsoft Teams to send text messages. Here’s how
Microsoft said that Teams has received a ground-up redesign, which will “empower customers to navigate the challenges of the evolving modern workplace.”

Using Microsoft Teams to talk with your colleagues is pretty simple thanks to the built-in chat feature. You can chat with your teammates, share documents, and even initiate voice calls if and when you need them.

Its initial design focused on communicating between team members, hence the name, however, being able to talk with other businesses or clients can be limited with Microsoft Teams. Now, thanks to a recent update, you can invite people via SMS on Microsoft Teams for free. In fact, you can start an SMS conversation with participants in multiple countries, including Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Great Britain, India, Mexico, and the U.S.
How to send an SMS in Teams
Starting an SMS conversation is really simple:

Read more
The most innovative monitors of 2023
The Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 was the most innovative monitor of 2023.

This year was huge for monitors. In 2023, we saw the first OLED gaming monitors, refresh rates beyond what we could have ever imagined, and unique form factors that enhance productivity and media consumption by a mile.

There's always the old guard on our list of the best monitors if you want a good, reliable display. But these monitors pushed the envelope this year in a way no other displays did.

Read more
The most innovative laptop of 2023
The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i won Digital Trend's Most Innovative Laptop of 2023 award.

Laptops struggled hard in 2023. For the first time in years, we saw a decline in units sold -- and what felt like a general lack of momentum in the space. But that doesn't mean there weren't a few that really got me excited. The three laptops listed below show just how adventurous laptop manufacturers are getting, and my top choice really pushes that to the extreme.

So, while these aren't exactly the best new laptops to come out in 2023 that everyone should go out and buy, they do show off some serious innovation in engineering and design.

Read more