In the past, eye-tracking technology has had a bad press. “Using eye blink or dwell for cockpit control selection led to the so called ‘Midas touch’ phenomenon, where people could inadvertently switch things on or off just by looking,” says Ms Page. But combine a gaze with a second control and the possibilities are vast. “Consider the mouse, a genius piece of technology. Three buttons but great versatility.” Pilots, she says, could activate drop-down menus with their gaze, and confirm their command with the click of a button at their fingers.
In future, eye-tracking might be used to assess a pilot’s physiological state. “There’s evidence parameters about the eye can tell us about an individual’s cognitive workload,” says Ms Page.
Eye-tracking technology could also monitor how quickly a pilot is learning the ropes, allowing training to be better tailored. “Instead of delivering a blanket 40 hours to everyone, for instance, you could cut training for those whose eye data suggest they are monitoring the correct information and have an acceptable workload level, and allow longer for those who need it.”
- Obviously, human augmentation is initially focusing on vision, but that’s just the beginning. Our brain seems to be capable of processing any input, extract a meaningful pattern out of it, and use to improve our understanding of the world. I expect the auditory system to be the next AR focus. I’d assume augmented earing would be especially useful in ground combat.
- We are visual creatures so we are naturally inclined to assume that the large portion of our neocortex dedicated to image processing will be able to deal with even more data coming in. What if it’s a wrong assumption?