The eyes have it

As computers become more sophisticated, our eye movements could replace the common mouse and keyboard.

Scientists at London's Imperial College are developing eye-tracking technology to establish exactly how the eye works and how we look at things.

The possible applications for eye-tracking technology are numerous.

"Our research concerns the use of visual tracking for several applications. [For example,] visual tracking for active learning and manual interfacing," said Professor Guang-Zhong Yang.

As part of his research, Yang developed an infrared eye-tracking headset, which users were asked to wear while performing a particular task, such as finding an object on a screen.

Although users could immediately locate an object, it took an extremely high amount of brainpower for them to identify it. The research is being used to understand how the eye moves when performing different tasks.

"Other institutions have successfully applied visual research for many other areas such as computer interfacing for disabled people, visual attention and fatigue during driving," added Yang.

One area where eye-tracking technology is already widely used is in advertising market research. It can determine which images in a commercial a consumer's eye is drawn to most, thereby establishing the best area for product placement.

Psychology has also become a popular application for eye-tracking. With the help of European funding, University of Nottingham has been developing a system to assess people's reactions to various stimuli.

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