Many are aware of the mountain of Orwellian features inherent in Microsoft’s latest gaming console, Xbox One, but competitor Sony may soon take the cake when it comes to creepy, invasive Big Brother-style add-ons.
Sony’s Magic Lab research department has been working with SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), a world leader in “eye & gaze tracking systems,” to develop an attachment that will allow gamers to control cameras, characters and events on screen sans a controller. All that will be required is your eyes.
A prototype demonstration shows users would set the device on a table in front of a monitor about 50 to 75 centimeters from the eyes. The device’s cameras would then track eye motions and translate that data into actual movements on screen.
The technology is still far from hitting store shelves, and may fail to materialize, but gamers and reviewers are already smitten with the new eyeball tracker.
A writer for Wired, who tested a prototype at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week, commented on “how awesome it is to use.”
Digital Trends also hopes SMI’s eye tracker “may just be part of the future of gaming,” marveling at how “the effects are amazing.”
Eye tracking technology is indeed nothing new, however, SMI’s extensive background in the field should send up red flags for gamers concerned with privacy.
This is because SMI isn’t just barely wading into the eye-tracking trend. This is their realm, and for decades they’ve been working to perfect various innovations that have all sorts of creepy applications.
The company’s bread and butter is primarily designing eye tracking goggles for market, psychology and human research. A “Neuroheadset” can also accompany the eye tracking glasses to combine and record brain response data.
SMI also recently announced they were working in conjunction with Utah-based “deception detection company” Conversus to develop eye tracking technology “for reliable lie detection.”
In other words, they’re not noobs when it comes to eye surveillance tech, which they refer to as “solutions.”
There’s also the fact that research has led to successful interpretation of human emotions, as well as the ability to diagnose a wide range of health issues, simply by studying the retina, eye gaze patterns and pupil size variation, adding a whole other marketable dimension to possibly be exploited.
Given Microsoft has already submitted a patent for its new Xbox system to be able to analyze gamers’ emotions, or levels of engagement or enjoyment, and reward them based on whether or not they’re actually viewing ads, it’s not too far-fetched to assume PS4 is looking to integrate some of these same features.
Recently we also learned about a Swiss technology institute’s development of in-vehicle cameras that would detect a wide range of emotions, the purported goal being to combat road rage before it starts by sensing whenever a person’s facial expressions are perceived as “anger” or “disgust.”
It should be noted that Sony was not revealed to be a PRISM participant via NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks, but the company’s partnership with NASA to bring about their new virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, underscores their fondness of establishing relationships with government entities.
As privacy becomes a thing of the past, consider in George Orwell’s novel 1984 that all his protagonist Winston wanted to do was to get away from ubiquitous cameras and microphones that would peer into every private moment of his life.