LeapPad Inventor Wants to Turn Your Eyes Into a Mouse

LeapPad Inventor Wants to Turn Your Eyes Into a Mouse


  • Eye-based technology is key to improving and popularizing VR technology
  • System designed to help alleviate the nausea experienced by some VR users
  • Eyefluence is currently hammering out licensing deals with headset makers

First came the computer mouse. Then the touchscreen. Now the tech industry is looking for a new human-machine interface-this time, one that will make virtual-reality headsets as mainstream as personal computers and smartphones.

The man who invented the LeapPad tablet for kids is betting the killer app is right in front of your face: the eyes.

Jim Marggraff’s startup, Eyefluence, has developed technology that knows where people are looking and lets them manipulate objects the way we do now by clicking a mouse or tapping an icon. Besides fostering a more natural and immersive experience, the system is designed to help alleviate the nausea experienced by some VR users and enhance security with iris scans.

Marggraff says most of the big headset makers have expressed interest in licensing the technology from his Milpitas, California, company. Motorola Solutions, a leading investor, is testing the technology for emergency responders and sees possibilities in mining and medicine. “You’re able to basically interact in the virtual world simply by looking at what you want to interact with,” says X Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis, who advises Eyefluence and has seen the technology.

Most VR headsets use some sort of handheld device (like a game controller) or head movements to navigate. These techniques are far from ideal because they require a lot of moving around that gets tiring, and industry heavyweights including Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg agree that some form of eye-based technology is key to improving and popularizing VR technology. Gaming enthusiasts also say eye-tracking would significantly improve the playing experience by making it easier to follow objects and interact with characters.

Already, a host of companies with names like SensoMotoric Instruments, Tobii and The Eye Tribe are working on eye-tracking devices that could plug into a range of headsets. Another company called Fove says it will soon have the first headset featuring a version of the technology. But most of these are limited to scanning the iris for security purposes and recognizing where the user is looking-pointing but not clicking.

Eyefluence takes it one step further, not only using the eyes as a cursor, but letting them select, zoom, pan-things now accomplished by clicking and double-clicking a mouse or tapping and pinching a touchscreen.

The eyes are the fastest moving organ, capable of shifting 900 degrees per second, which means Eyefluence’s interface software makes it much faster to tell the computer what to do. The technology makes a two- or even three-step thought process into one: say, from look at object, move hand to it and tap or click to simply look. “It almost feels magical, like the system knows what you want before you tell it,” Diamandis says. “It’s almost like it’s reading your mind.”

When Marggraff announced plans to turn the human eye into a computer mouse, skeptics said it couldn’t be done. “People told me, ‘Don’t bother: you consume information with your eyes, but if you try to simultaneously use your eyes to control things, there will be a collision between controlling and directing and consuming,” he recalls.

But Marggraff has a deserved reputation for knowing a good idea when he sees one. He came up with the LeapPad even before the iPod existed. Released in 1999, the device helped kids learn how to read, was for a time the most popular toy in the US and generated more than $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,717 crores) in revenue within five years.

Marggraff, 58, also created the Livescribe, one of the better-known smart pens that record audio and sync it to written notes. Eyefluence co-founder Dave Stiehr, 57, helped build several medical-device companies, including one that sold automatic external defibrillators-gadgets that diagnose and correct uneven heartbeats and are now standard equipment in many movie theaters, airplanes and offices.

In 2012, Marggraff bought all the assets of Eye-Com, a research company led by neurologist William Torch and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense. Torch researched everything from fatigue to blinking and had accumulated more than a decade’s worth of data on eyes as well as built technology to track and analyze the organ. Marggraff and his team used that foundation to create an interactive system that uses looks to direct a computer.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Eyefluence’s team had to design a way that feels natural for the eyes to communicate a person’s intentions to the machine. Looking at an object for a set amount of time to “click” it, for instance, wouldn’t work: it’s too taxing on the eyes, and it would take too much active thinking to remember to stare for a certain amount of time or not stare for too long for fear of accidentally selecting it. A successful eye-interaction method would have to be just as intuitive as moving a mouse or tapping an app.

In the end, Marggraff solved the problem by embracing aspects of how the human eye works that he’d originally seen as a limitation. Even though it feels like our eyes are providing a constant stream of visual information, there are actually interruptions to the feed when we move our eyes to look at or examine something else.

In those moments, we are essentially blind and the brain fills in the missing images. Using these kinds of movements as a foundation, Eyefluence built an eye-machine interface that acts on intentional looks and ignores incidental ones. The company declined to explain further how the software works, citing concerns about maintaining a competitive edge.

Eyefluence is currently hammering out licensing deals with various headset makers to include its hardware and software in their devices, though the company declined to discuss specifics, citing non-disclosure agreements. Marggraff did say that the company is working with the “major players” and has been “overloaded with the strong amount of business partnerships and interest.”

Motorola Solutions, which led Eyefluence’s most recent fundraising round of $14 million, has been trying out the technology for more practical applications. The company, which sells equipment to first responders and other public safety and government agencies, sees Eyefluence as essential to providing police and firefighters with information via headset in a hands-free way that won’t interfere with their jobs.

“The more stress you’re under, the less cognitive ability you have to devote to menial tasks, so when you need the tech the most, that’s when you have the least capacity you have to extract what you need,” says Chief Technology Officer Paul Steinberg. “By using the very simple and quick interactions, we can lessen cognitive requirements to use the technology.”

Steinberg also foresees using Eyefluence’s technology in headsets for industries such as mining where drones will probably become ubiquitous. To test the eye-tracking and interface, Motorola Solutions has built and tested a virtual command center for emergency responders using Facebook’s Oculus Riftheadset, where users can see camera feeds from field operatives and control what they’re looking at and zoom in and out using their eyes. The next iteration could use Eyefluence technology to develop gaze-matching, where a person in the command center will be able to not only follow where the field operatives are looking, but direct them to check out other things.

The learning curve was almost nonexistent, which surprised Steinberg because he’d assumed using looks to manipulate things would present a challenge. And he says users generally retained their knowledge. However, Motorola Solutions probably won’t have a product ready next year, largely because headsets need to improve first.

Diamandis predicts Eyefluence technology will popularize VR the way the mouse once did the personal computer: “Everyone who’s seen it has completely gotten the power.”

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Tags: Eyefluence, VR Headset, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables, Gaming, PC, Laptop



Verizon Eyes Automotive Technology Market, Could Spur Other Deals

Verizon Eyes Automotive Technology Market, Could Spur Other Deals

Verizon Communications Inc’s recent purchases of two vehicle tracking firms could spark more deals as the No. 1 wireless provider and rival AT&T see fleet management as a source of growth, analysts said.

Faced with a saturated wireless market, several telecom companies are looking beyond their main phone business for ways to extract more value from existing networks. Just last month, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.8 billion, diving into digital media and advertising.

But Verizon also recently acquired privately held connected-vehicle technology firm Telogis for an undisclosed sum and said it would buy GPS vehicle tracking company Fleetmatics Group Plc for $2.4 billion (roughly Rs. 16,012 crores).

Telecom providers are moving towards acquiring “eyeballs or a fleet of people” that can use applications built on top of the wireless network, said Richard McBee, chief executive officer of Canadian communications technology company Mitel Networks Corp .

The fleet and mobile workforce management business connects fleet vehicles to the wireless network and collects data, like driver behaviour, to manage vehicles and workers. The business delivers a source of recurring subscription-based revenue from clients such as large logistics companies and local delivery services.


After buying Fleetmatics and Telogis, Verizon could be on the lookout for a security or software technology firm to pair with its data-heavy automotive technology business, Susan Beardslee, analyst at ABI Research, said. Potential targets could be Israel-based cyber security firm Argus and software management company Movimento, she added.

Rival AT&T has its own fleet management business and could look into buying fleet tracking firms such as Teletrac Navman, Omnitracs, Geotab and Zonar, analysts said.

Verizon, Argus, Movimento, AT&T, Omnitracs and Zonar Systems declined to comment. Teletrac Navman and Geotab could not be immediately reached for comment.

While Verzion’s second-quarter revenue of $31 billion dwarfs that of Telogis and Fleetmatics, both firms are expected to grow quickly. Fleetmatics reported $285 million in sales last year and is seen growing at an annual revenue rate of 15 percent to 20 percent.

Fleet management businesses may also get a boost from a recent federal regulation that mandates that companies digitally record driver work hours with electronic devices, analysts said.

“It will be interesting to see how they leverage up here in coming years,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ. “But I wouldn’t expect (Fleetmatics) to be the last of their deals.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: AT And T, Internet, Telecom, Verizon, Yahoo

China eyes steel merger to create rival to ArcelorMittal

Steel slabs sit on flatcars after being manufactured at the ArcelorMittal steel mill complex in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

metallic slabs sit on flatcars after being synthetic at the ArcelorMittal metal mill complex in Cleveland, Ohio. photograph: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Beijing: China’s second– and sixthlargest steelmakers by using output have entered restructuring talks, which analysts say could presage a merger that could create the country’s biggest mill, and a employerwith the scale to rival the likes of ArcelorMittal SA.

trading become suspended inside the listed units of kingdom-run Shanghai Baosteel institution Corp. and Wuhan Iron & steel organization Corp. as their dad and mom talk “strategic restructuring,” theorganizations stated in statements on Sunday, without elaborating. the two companies had a blendedmarket price of $sixteen.3 billion as of Friday’s near, and potential of greater than 70 million tonnes. Analysts including the ones at Citigroup Inc. and Mysteel studies referred to the information as heralding a potential merger of the businesses.

The talks spotlight China’s efforts to overhaul its inefficient country-run region and bolster an economic system headed for its slowest increase in decades. A deal among the two might be the biggest in China’s metals sector for the reason that December, whilst China Minmetals Corp., its largest dealer, agreed to shop for a central authority-owned engineering and mining group, because the state seeks to reduceovercapacity at the same time as creating globally competitive firms.

“The merger of Baosteel and Wuhan steel suits with the authorities method of enhancing efficiency andreducing competition and overcapacity,” stated Xu Xiangchun, chief analyst at consultancy Mysteelresearch. “With these leading the effort there might be greater mergers in advance.”

on the same day that the talks had been introduced, the chairman of China’s pinnacle financial planner, the national development and Reform fee, stated the nation will cut steel capability through 45 million tonnes this year. It had already pledged to reduce potential through as tons as a hundred and fifty million tonnes thru 2020.

even though China’s metal output has peaked, the home marketplace stays saturated, Chen Derong,general supervisor at Baosteel, informed an enterprise convention remaining month. because thekingdom seeks to clean its surplus, its exports are running at document degrees, creating a global glut of the metal and drawing fire from competitors from Japan to the us China’s crude metallicproducingcapability reached a document 1.2 billion tonnes on the cease of ultimate year, consistent with the China Iron & metallic affiliation.

As such, any merger is unlikely to have much effect at the united states’s exports, stated Wu Wenzhang,chief analyst for Shanghai Steelhome data generation Co. “Exports are a matter of worldwide exchange,distant places demand and chinese merchandise’ competitiveness, which have little to do with a country’s manufacturing ability,” he stated.

China’s internet metallic exports may additionally continue to be above a hundred million tonnes thisyear, Wu brought, with domestic metal intake falling through 20 million tonnes to approximately 680 million tonnes as investment slows and the state turns to intake-led boom rather than spending on infrastructure.

information of the restructuring talks gave a considerable raise to metallic charges. Reinforcement bar futures in Shanghai rose as plenty as 6.four%, the maximum in six years, on expectancies that a mergermight lessen overcapacity, said Wu Zhili, an analyst at Shenhua Futures.

A mixed employer would leapfrog domestic rival Hesteel institution in phrases of production andpositioned it simply in the back of ArcelorMittal in the international ratings. both firms hire extra than100,000, consistent with a record by way of Citigroup on Monday, which stated it expects more mergers of China’s nation-owned organizations on the heels of any Baosteel-Wuhan restructuring.

A aggregate could be “high quality for Baosteel within the lengthyterm as the 2 companies at the same time manage over 60% of autosheet and over eighty% of the silicon metallic marketplace in China,” in step with Citi. both agencies are directly underneath the state-owned property Supervision andadministration fee of the nation Council, China’s cabinet. Bloomberg

Tech global Eyes virtual existence beyond the smartphone

Tech World Eyes Digital Life Beyond the Smartphone

The telephone revolutionized how humans stay and paintings, however the era international is nowsuffering to look what comes next.

As telephone sales have peaked in maximum predominant markets, Apple, Samsung and others are beingcompelled to reconsider their business fashions to maintain growing and connecting with consumers.

The fashion in smartphones seems to follow similar peaks in tablet income and private computers, saidBob O’Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis research.

we’re truely entering a new generation wherein growth of conventional devices has ended and you need to suppose differently,” O’Donnell said.

it’s no longer clear what is going to be the “subsequent big issue” in era or even if there’s one, and that is troubling for an industry that has been living off increase from smartphones and their ecosystems of Android and Apple iOS packages.

John Curran, managing director of Accenture’s communications, media, and technology organization, saidthat in a maturing smartphone market, clients aren’t hesitating about new purchases.

customers are basically glad with their contemporary gadgets,” said Curran.

Curran said the internet of factors appears to be a promising market however that no single device has proved compelling to date.

we are seeing a huge variety of gadgets, smartwatches, home automation, drones and the like,” Curranstated.

but those are not starting up (because) human beings don’t see the personal cost in their lives yet.”

An Accenture survey released in January, primarily based on polls in 28 international locations, observeddeclines in purchase motive for new smartphones and other hugeprice tag electronics devices.

most effective a relative small variety of clients expressed hobby in new internet of factors gadgetswhich includes smartwatches or drones – expressing worries over fee, protection and complexity of use.

Curran stated the smartphone have become wildly famous because it addressed a key trouble of communications for humans at the pass, but that the next big component isn’t clean.

purchasers are seeking out things that solve practical, tangible troubles,” he said.

“They need to peer matters that make their lives simpler, that pleasure and amaze them.”

looking for integration
Ramon Llamas, analyst on the studies company IDC, stated purchasers need to look how all their newgadgets and services may be interconnected.

“The telephone will nevertheless have a privileged vicinity in our lives, however it desires to hook up withall our different gadgets,” he stated.

“You need your telephone to talk to your own home security system and your wearable device.”

global phone sales within the first sector showed their slowest increase on report of 0.2 percentage,according to IDC. A separate report by means of Juniper studies become even more gloomy,announcing worldwide income fell almost six percentage.

The marketplace for devices consisting of smartwatches, fitness bands and smart home era is growing,however in a more disjointed style, with a number of competing operating systems which could regularlyconfuse clients.

“In all of those environments, you’ll want some stage of computing or connectivity, so the companieswhich can deliver the ones varieties of matters could be better positioned,” O’Donnell stated.

with no unmarried essential tool dominating, O’Donnell stated the future tech landscape will see gamersemerge that may integrate hardware, software, digital truth and synthetic intelligence. that might open the door to vital roles for facebook, Amazon, Intel and different gamers.

devices ‘fade away’
some appearance to a panorama where generation and synthetic intelligence permeate all aspects ofexistence, in which the “toolmay additionally come to be nearly inappropriate.

looking to the future, the following big step might be for the very idea of the ‘toolto fade away,” says Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet unit Google, in a latest weblog put up.

through the years, the pc itself – whatever its form thingmight be an clever assistant supporting youthru your day. we will circulate from mobile first to an AI (synthetic intelligence) first global.”

Samsung, the world‘s biggest smartphone maker, said it too is looking at a distinct future of relatedmatters.

we’re already imagining the following step past the phone,” Samsung Electronics mobile communicationsenterprise president Dongjin Koh informed the enterprise‘s developer conference in California.

Samsung wants to integrate software program and services the usage of its Tizen platform within theperception that “everywhere you cross, there will be opportunities to carry devices and those together,” Koh stated.

Intel, the enterprise acknowledged for laptop chips and failing to apprehend the shift to cellular gadgets,last month unveiled a main restructuring, that allows you to the “internet of factors.” some reports statedIntel’s new structure abandons the cellphone in prefer of rising gadgets and offerings.

the most important opportunity inside the internet of factors is that it encompasses just abouteverything in our lives nowadays,” stated Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a weblog post.

“From our shoes and garments to our homes and cars — the internet of factors is transformingeverything and each experience.”

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Tags: Android, Apple, fb, Google, Intel, iOS, Mobiles, Samsung, Sundar Pichai, drugs, Wearables

ata centre start-up Pi eyes smart city projects

Data access and use of analytics increase sales success

Data centre and enterprise cloud start-up, Pi Datacenters, is developing an Internet of Things (IoT) framework in a data centre standpoint, and is contemplating giving proofs-of-concept to various state governments to participate in their smart city projects, said its founder and Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Muppaneni.

“Data centres form the key infrastructure for providing services to smart cities. We will also be in a position to host the governments on our cloud solutions within the next one year,” he told Business Standard.

Stating that IoT is still an evolutionary technology which has reached only 30% of its full potential, Muppaneni said the company was currently piloting the intellectual property-based IoT framework with three edge data centres in India. The frame work will be released in the market in a couple of months from now.

Pi Datacenters is setting up its first Tier-IV data centre at Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, with an incremental investment of Rs 600 crore over the next four years. Muppaneni said Phase-I of the 500,000-sft data centre, which involved an investment of Rs 60 crore, would be operational by July 2016.

The company had, in March 2015, announced its intent to raise Rs 540 crore from institutional venture capitalists to fund the data centre. Muppaneni, however, said the fund-raising plan was put on the backburner.

“The project will be self-funded as internal revenues will start kicking in from the third quarter of this year. We are also sharpening our focus on catering to customer-premise data centres for which we already have about 15 clients in the pipeline. This will be another source of revenues for us,” he said.

Pi Datacenters has recently entered into a strategic partnership with Arista Networks, a US-based software-driven cloud networking solutions. Under the MoU, Arista and Pi will collaborate to leverage each other in delivering software-defined compute to customers in the Indian market.

Quoting a Gartner report, Muppaneni said the Indian data centre infrastructure market, comprising server, storage and networking equipment, is currently pegged at $3.7 billion. According to him, the company is looking for a suitable location for setting up a disaster recovery centre (DRC), which would be up and running by the end of 2016.