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Behind Apple's announcement this week regarding Eye Tracking for iPhone and iPad were multiple patents over several years


On Wednesday Apple announced new accessibility features including eye tracking and more to allow users with disabilities to control an iPad or iPhone with their eyes.   

Apple notes that "Eye Tracking uses the front-facing camera to set up and calibrate in seconds, and with on-device machine learning, all data used to set up and control this feature is kept securely on device, and isn’t shared with Apple.

Eye Tracking works across iPadOS and iOS apps, and doesn’t require additional hardware or accessories. With Eye Tracking, users can navigate through the elements of an app and use Dwell Control to activate each element, accessing additional functions such as physical buttons, swipes, and other gestures solely with their eyes."

Patently Apple covered Apple's first eye tracking patent for devices beyond a headset back in July 2021. The image below is from patent application 20210223862.


Although it became an Apple patent, it's origins date back to 2017 when Apple acquired Germany's SMI SensoMotoric Instruments for their expertise in eye tracking. The  lead engineer listed on that patent was Walter Nistico, now an Engineering Manager on Apple's Deep Learning and Computer Vision team. 

On March 23, 2023, Patently Apple posted an IP report titled "Apple Reveals Next-Gen Eye and Hand-Tracking to assist users work in 3D Environments on Macs, XR Headset, an iPad & more.

In the end, Apple's announcement this week introducing eye tracking for those with disabilities didn't come out of thin air but rather through serious work on several major projects supported by patents over 7 or more years. Apple's patents suggest that eye and hand tracking features may apply to future devices along with Macs and more over time.

10.0F - Apple News


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