Google Acquires Eye Tracking Startup Eyefluence and its Technology

Sharing is caring!

Google Glasses aren’t the only Heads up Display that Google will likely use or demonstrate. Imagine that Google acquired technology that let you use your gaze as a mouse, and tracked your eye movements to see what you are looking at. Google has acquired such technology.

Google buys Eyefluence eye-tracking startup. Here is a pair of eye tracking glasses that Eyefluence has patented:

Eyefluence Eye Tracking Device
Eyefluence Eye Tracking Device

I looked up the granted patents and pending patent applications from Eyeinfluence. Some of these have the same name and are possibly continuation patents (with different claims). I’m seeing differences in the claims that are worth comparing to see how the technology behind them has been updated. With Google looking at Virtual Reality applications and likely more Augmented Reality applications, it’s good seeing them investing in other related technologies.

Granted Patents

Systems and methods for identifying gaze tracking scene reference locations
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, William C. Torch, Gholamreza Amayeh, and David Leblanc
Assignee: EYEFLUENCE, INC.
United States Patent 9,405,365
Granted: August 2, 2016
Filed: November 10, 2014

Abstract

A system is provided for identifying reference locations within the environment of a device wearer. The system includes a scene camera mounted on eyewear or headwear coupled to a processing unit. The system may recognize objects with known geometries that occur naturally within the wearer’s environment or objects that have been intentionally placed at known locations within the wearer’s environment. One or more light sources may be mounted on the headwear that illuminate reflective surfaces at selected times and wavelengths to help identify scene reference locations and glints projected from known locations onto the surface of the eye. The processing unit may control light sources to adjust illumination levels in order to help identify reference locations within the environment and corresponding glints on the surface of the eye. Objects may be identified substantially continuously within video images from scene cameras to provide a continuous data stream of reference locations.

Systems and methods for high-resolution gaze tracking
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, William C. Torch and Christopher N.Spitler
Assignee: EYEFLUENCE, INC.
United States Patent 9,390,326
Granted: July 12, 2016
Filed: December 31, 2014

Abstract

A system mounted within eyewear or headwear to unobtrusively produce and track reference locations on the surface of one or both eyes of an observer is provided to improve the accuracy of gaze tracking. The system utilizes multiple illumination sources and/or multiple cameras to generate and observe glints from multiple directions. The use of multiple illumination sources and cameras can compensate for the complex, three-dimensional geometry of the head and the significant anatomical variations of the head and eye region that occurs among individuals. The system continuously tracks the initial placement and any slippage of eyewear or headwear. In addition, the use of multiple illumination sources and cameras can maintain high-precision, dynamic eye tracking as an eye moves through its full physiological range. Furthermore, illumination sources placed in the normal line-of-sight of the device wearer increase the accuracy of gaze tracking by producing reference vectors that are close to the visual axis of the device wearer.

Systems and methods for high-resolution gaze tracking
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, William C. Torch and Christopher N.Spitler
Assignee: Eyefluence, Inc. (Reno, NV)
United States Patent 8,929,589
Granted: January 6, 2015
Filed: November 7, 2011

Abstract

A system is mounted within eyewear or headwear to unobtrusively produce and track reference locations on the surface of one or both eyes of an observer. The system utilizes multiple illumination sources and/or multiple cameras to generate and observe glints from multiple directions. The use of multiple illumination sources and cameras can compensate for the complex, three-dimensional geometry of the head and anatomical variations of the head and eye region that occurs among individuals. The system continuously tracks the initial placement and any slippage of eyewear or headwear. In addition, the use of multiple illumination sources and cameras can maintain high-precision, dynamic eye tracking as an eye moves through its full physiological range. Furthermore, illumination sources placed in the normal line-of-sight of the device wearer increase the accuracy of gaze tracking by producing reference vectors that are close to the visual axis of the device wearer.

Systems and methods for measuring reactions of head, eyes, eyelids and pupils
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, William C. Torch
Assignee: Eyefluence, Inc.
United States Patent 8,911,087
Granted: December 16, 2014
Filed: May 20, 2011

Abstract

Systems and methods are provided to measure reaction times and/or responses for head, eye, eyelid movements, and/or changes in pupil geometry. The system includes eyewear or headwear including one or more eye-tracking cameras for monitoring the position and geometry of at least one eye and its components of the user, one or more scene cameras for monitoring the user’s surroundings, and one or more processors to determine reaction times. Optionally, the system may include one or more of a multi-axis accelerometer to monitor head movements, light sources to trigger visual evoked responses, and/or electronic inputs that may be used to indicate the time of occurrence of external reference events. Measured reaction times and other measurements may be monitored for use in a range of applications. Responses and reaction times may be measured continuously over extended periods, even over a lifetime to measure consequences of the aging process.

Systems and methods for spatially controlled scene illumination
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, Jason Heffernan
Assignee: Eyefluence, Inc.
United States Patent 8,890,946
Granted: November 18, 2014
Filed: March 1, 2010

Abstract

A scene illumination system is provided that produces spatially uniform or controlled brightness levels for machine vision applications. The system includes a camera, multiple light sources that preferentially illuminate different regions within the camera’s field-of-view, and a processing unit coupled to the camera and light sources. Focal regions of the light sources within the camera’s field-of-view are sampled to determine average regional brightness and compared to target brightness levels. The processing unit controls the light sources to increase or decrease illumination levels to converge toward the target brightness levels within the field-of-view. This modulation of the light sources may be repeated with successive video images until target brightness levels are achieved. Once achieved, the iterative feedback control may be locked-in for some applications, while for others, the iterative process may continue periodically or continuously to account for different scenes or changes in lighting conditions.

Systems and methods for identifying gaze tracking scene reference locations
Inventors: Nelson G. Publicover, William C. Torch, Gholamreza Amayeh, David Leblanc
Assignee: Eyefluence, Inc.
United States Patent 8,885,877
Granted: November 11, 2014
Filed: May 20, 2011

Abstract

A system is provided for identifying reference locations within the environment of a device wearer. The system includes a scene camera mounted on eyewear or headwear coupled to a processing unit. The system may recognize objects with known geometries that occur naturally within the wearer’s environment or objects that have been intentionally placed at known locations within the wearer’s environment. One or more light sources may be mounted on the headwear that illuminate reflective surfaces at selected times and wavelengths to help identify scene reference locations and glints projected from known locations onto the surface of the eye. The processing unit may control light sources to adjust illumination levels in order to help identify reference locations within the environment and corresponding glints on the surface of the eye. Objects may be identified substantially continuously within video images from scene cameras to provide a continuous data stream of reference locations.

Pending Patent Applications

SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR EYE GAZE DETERMINATION
Inventors: Gholamreza Amayeh, Dave Leblanc, Zhiming Liu, Michael Vacchina, and Steve Wood
United States Patent Application 20140218281
Published: August 7, 2014
Filed: December 6, 2013

Abstract

Devices and methods are provided for eye and gaze tracking determination. In one embodiment, a method for compensating for movement of a wearable eye tracking device relative to a user’s eye is provided that includes wearing a wearable device on a user’s head such that one or more endo-cameras are positioned to acquire images of one or both of the user’s eyes, and an exo-camera is positioned to acquire images of the user’s surroundings; calculating the location of features in a user’s eye that cannot be directly observed from images of the eye acquired by an endo-camera; and spatially transforming camera coordinate systems of the exo- and endo-cameras to place calculated eye features in a known location and alignment.

EYE TRACKING WEARABLE DEVICES AND METHODS FOR USE
Inventors: Eliot Francis Drake, Gholamreza Amayeh, Angelique Kano, Dave Le Blanc, Zhiming Liu, Lewis James Marggraff, Rory Pierce, Nelson G. Publicover, Christopher N. Spitler, Michael Vacchina
Assignee: Eyefluence, Inc.
United States Patent Application 20140184775
Published: July 3, 2014
Filed: December 6, 2013

Abstract

Devices and methods are provided for eye-tracking, e.g., including a freeform optical assembly and/or a modular design. In an exemplary embodiment, a device and method are provided that includes a wearable device on a user’s head, the wearable device including a scene camera oriented to capture images of the user’s surroundings. The user may perform a predetermined action with the user’s eye to activate a photo feature of the wearable device, gaze at a region within the user’s surroundings, the wearable device determining a focal point and limited field-of-view for the camera imaging field based on the center point, and activate the camera to capture an image of the limited field-of-view centered around the focal point.

Sharing is caring!

21 thoughts on “Google Acquires Eye Tracking Startup Eyefluence and its Technology”

  1. Excellent find Bill.
    I tried Google glass a few years ago, but never thought they were thinking as far ahead as eye-tracking. It could be a game changer if should they implement the technology with search and user-behaviour in the future.
    Thanks for sharing insights on these patents 🙂

  2. Hi David,

    I remember seeing eye tracking envisioned as being built into Google Glass, but it’s possible that was never actually built into them. It is interesting seeing the technology that comes with acquisitions such as this one. You’re welcome. 🙂

  3. Hi Michael,

    Acquistions by Google are exciting, because they bring new people and new technologies and new ideas into the mix. Google didn’t fare well with Google Glass, but Eyefluence has something else that is different in many ways.

  4. This could be an interesting option for analysing user behaviour on websites. I remember attending a user testing panel in 2008 where people were filmed while testing a website to record their eye movement. Could be an option here. Thanks for reporting.

  5. In the world of Virtual Reality, AR, and AI, tech giants are on war with each other. These giants are promoting Enterprise Mobility services to businesses and stealing data from end user to control everything and influence buying behaviour.

  6. Hi thanks for sharing this info Bill,

    I believe that this technology will be a game changer, I have heard of military grade HUD’s. It is the first time i realize that it will be available for commercial purpose too. This technology can definitely capture a lot of user behavior pattern.

  7. Hi Nishant,

    I worked on an SEO campaign a few years ago with a client who was selling night vision goggles, which had been cleared to sell to non-military organizations It’s interesting seeing technologies of these types gaining audiences, and it sounds like Google might have a good plan in place for using this technology to replace mice as a pointing and selection method.

  8. It is like the Snapchat Spectacles. Companies today have many inventions to gain sales. However, they also need to think what this will do for the people.

  9. Thanks Bill for again finding a share about Google’s advancements in technology. I find it a challenge connecting all the “DOT’s” but see this to be possibly supporting many dot’s in the future.

  10. Nice Post ! I have tried Google glass a few week ago, but never thought they were thinking as far ahead as eye-tracking. It could be a game changer if should they implement the technology with search and user behaviour in the future.

  11. The possibility of google rating user experience incorporating Eyefluence is mind blowing. I remember a conference in early 15 with Samsung/Google in CA where they had live demos of the updated Google Glass… I know we see it everyday but technology will continue to be the unstoppable train it is today. Now to get a jumpstart on ways to optimize current clients for Eyefluence! Great write up Bill! Thank You

  12. Eyeball tracking has been gaining a lot of importance in last one decade. Now with all the major tech companies pushing for AI, the eyeball data will be very useful in understanding use engagement and building automated responses.

  13. Hi Reno SEO,

    Some of the Google Glass patents had eye tracking built into them, so that they could tell what you were looking at, and enhance your vision when looking in that particular direction. It wasn’t the same as using your gaze as a mouse, like the Eyefluence technology is doing, but it was definitely eyetracking.

  14. Hi Nimesh,

    Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are similar in many ways, and in some systems, like Magic Leaps, they are mixed together. Augmented reality builds upon the textures of existing objects to show images, while VR broadcasts within a pair of Googles.

  15. Google has been acquiring a lot of companies lately, yes. Boston dynamics being quite a large one! Many companies are AI orientated. The future of Google could be very interesting indeed!
    Cheers for this post!
    Alex

  16. Hi Alex,

    Last I heard, Google was tryihg to sell Boston Dynamics. I guess there were some aspects of how the technology worked that didn’t appeal to them.

  17. Eye tracking is such an innovative concept. We use it quite a bit in the market research field with point-of-purchase displays. The data can be literally and figuratively eye-opening. When coupled with qualitative research it can be quite insightful.

  18. Hi George,

    It will be interesting seeing how Google ends up incorporating eye tracking into a consumer product. It’s possible that it will be used as a selection method, as a mouse replacement.

  19. Hi Bill,

    Wow! Pretty soon, and at the rate Google’s progressing, it’ll be lenses instead of Google glass. Amazed everyday at the new discoveries and creations! Great post.

    Thanks,
    Deepak

  20. Hello Bill,

    Great piece of article 🙂 Never knew google where into eye-tracking. Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Abid Omar

Comments are closed.