Business / Tech | SEEN AT CEATEC

Looking for something special? Gaze-tracking tech knows the answer

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff writer

When you go shopping, your eyes naturally scan the products on shop shelves and racks and eventually pause or return to an object of desire.

For retailers, data that pertains to what products customers have looked at can be invaluable, and this is what Fujitsu Ltd. is aiming to realize with its gaze-tracking technology, currently being showcased at the CEATEC trade show.

Fujitsu makes it possible to collect “gaze data” by equipping a small device equipped with an infrared camera and infrared LED that catch the positions of corneal reflections and pupils. It assesses the movement of the gaze 10 to 15 times per second.

For the demonstration, the firm set up a situation in which people are attending a tasting event of four kinds alcoholic drinks and the device tracked their gazes and displayed their movement on the screens.

Takahiro Yoshioka of Fujitsu Laboratories said while this technology has not been used by stores to collect gaze data yet, it has been implemented on a number of Fujitsu computers.

For instance, it enables users to pull up a menu bar by staring at the right side of the screen.

Fujitsu plans to make the technology available to retail stores for marketing usage by the end of March.

While the data is definitely valuable for vendors, some customers may feel that their privacy is being compromised by such eye-tracking technology. Yoshioka said this is understandable, so the firm will make sure that personal identification data in not associated with gaze data.