Eye-Tracking: User Research & Natural Interaction

Milan, Italy | 2003- never ending love for eye-tracking

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I will always be grateful for the years spent hands-on in eye-tracking technology.
Before discovering this technology, I was a usability expert who based his work on cognitive walkthroughs and expert opinions;  Having robust data improved me as a designer and made it possible for
SRLABS to build impactful products.

Building SRLABS: User research, Natural Interaction, Eye-Tracking integration, Immersive...

The best possible user research

Understanding how users explore digital interfaces provides superpowers to the designer who wants to improve the call-to-action effectiveness, optimize UX, and create a bond with users.

Business Case

SRLABS: Was and is still the primary Italian Eye-Tracking. SRLABS resell Tobii Trackers; they create their own software solutions, and serve a vaste community of companies experimenting with eye-tracking integrations.

TOBII: Founded in 2001, Tobii is the global leader in eye tracking and pioneer of attention computing. We serve partners and customers from our headquarters in Stockholm and 14 offices spread across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Listed on Nasdaq Stockholm (TOBII) in 2015, we currently employ over 600 people and hold around 700 patents.

Senhance: Digital Laparoscopy. It digitizes the interface between the surgeon and the patient to improve minimally invasive surgery (MIS).

Role

I joined SRLABS during its early years to address all the design needs.
 

  • Creating the market and usability research offering

  • Organizing the company communication

  • Hiring and leading the design team

  • Identifying and exploring new eye-tracking applications' fields.


Working together with the development team (basically two people) and supported by a junior HCI expert I hired, we created one of the first ever eye-gaze enabled user interface. I brought this HCI innovation much further the user research field, supporting the creation of a series assistive healthcare tools, and an interesting patent to optimize video streaming contents for small displays.

Impact

Impact while in SRLABS
My relationship with srlabs did not end with the end of my operational activity. The people of the team I hired and the company's management continued to discuss some critical choices with me for years. This small company has had a huge impact compared to its size. An impact measured in millions of annual revenues, but above all, measured through SRLABS technologies' contribution has given to about 15,000 patients suffering from dystrophies or with significant motor limitations. SRLABS people have done good things.


- iABLE still in production.
- Eye-Tracking based UI for medical device landed to Senhance laparoscopy surgical equipment (
video), generating over 1MM revenues for SRLABS.

 

User Research

Having robust data improved me as a designer, but before working on data, I had to set up the internal practice, hire the team, shape the offering. Today I am still taking advantage from the learnings I had working three years on eye-tracking. 

Inventing a new interaction eye-gaze based tecniques 

A very few designers are lucky enough to have the chance to work on a brand new interaction technique. When I had this opportunity I felt like I was working at the Xerox Parc, with the early mouse. Of course it was a much smaller thing, but my dedication and excitement were unquenchable. We built a magical UX, with zero visible UI. Just read a text, and the page scroll up and down smoothly following users' needs. This initial win brought SRLABS far far away... | Magical web page scrolling video

From Eye-Tracking powered MRI to eye-gaze driven surgical robots 

I started this research with the idea to support imaging diagnosis operators' training. Years later, a surgeon controlled three arms robots and made a laparoscopy, assisted by an eye-tracking-based interface. Zoom in/out, Select | Video: Early eye-gaze based MRI interfaces 

Helping patients

We created eye or touch-control communication tools equipped with specific software to improve people's communication with disabilities, helping more than 15K patients, including neurodegenerative diseases. | VIDEO: A patient and his caregiver, explaining iAble

ICS: The video streaming Intelligent Cropping System

What a crazy idea. What a disruption. What a miss. 
In 2006/7, I contributed to a patent using eye-tracking to select and crop  -frame by frame- a live video source in near real-time.
The goal was to optimize the video content for small displays. At that time, mobile phone display was miserable, and video contents were not enjoyable. Can you see a soccer match without distinguishing the ball? Watch a TV series without reading facial expressions? 
Our patent was using the fastest and most intelligent system on Earth: a cluster of humans watching the same content and determining where to crop every frame through their natural visual attention. In 2008, Steve Jobs introduced iPhone. 

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The fun of testing with eye-tracking 

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Immersive Eye-Tracking: Together with a talented team member, I had the opportunity to make very early eye-tracking test for immersive environment. 

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During the three years I spent in SRLABS, we learned to test very different user experiences, including ATM, vending machines, cars' cokpits and more.

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Visiting Tobii headquarter (2011)

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Immersive Eye-Tracking 2 | Full video

Btw. It really was something, playing Flight Simulator in this way. 

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Inventing the techniques that make possible to test a given equipment is often more complex than running the test.

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Tobii headquarter: testing leeander.com website with a brand new integrated eye-tracker.