Apple buys German eye-tracking firm SensoMotoric Instruments
MacRumors uncovered the acquisition of SensoMotoric Instruments [SMI] by an Apple “shell company” Vineyard Capital Corporation. Apple uses such companies to conceal its acquisitions, but this time MacRumors spotted the signature of Apple’s VP of Corporate Law, Gene Levoff, on a document involved with the transaction.
SMI has developed eye-tracking technology for a variety of applications, including clinical research, vision science, and virtual and augmented reality. Almost certainly, it’s the VR/AR applications that interest Apple.
SMI has developed glasses with built-in eye-tracking sensors (shown above) as well as installed its sensors into VR headsets. In AR/VR, there are two basic uses for eye tracking. First, eye tracking can be used to control a pointing indicator such as a cursor or spot. Thus, it affords the user “hands free” pointing and selection capability.
Looks like future iPhone and iPads will incorporate such technology into their smartphones.