Researchers at Lancaster University have developed a video advertising system called Sideways that can change the ads it displays based on the eye movements of shoppers passing by. Senior researcher Andreas Bulling says the system uses a single camera to “[detect] the faces of people walking by and [calculate] where the eyes are relative to the eye corners.” Unlike similar systems designed to respond to biometric data, which have to be calibrated to an individual, Sideways can track the gazes of up to 14 people simultaneously. Bulling says, “Calibration is a major stumbling block for interactive gaze-based applications…it’s time-consuming and annoying.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Sideways is the latest system to incorporate eye-tracking technology, bringing video advertising screens alongside other electronic devices such as televisions and smartphones. It’ll be a few years before Sideways finds its way into stores, during which time concerns about privacy will hopefully be worked out, says Bulling: “If the system is only there to improve the shopping experience, customers will probably be fine with [it]. If it’s a more passive monitoring system of gaze-information, so the user is not aware of it, this could really have considerable privacy challenges.”