Future iOS and perhaps Mac OS X devices may allow you to control some user interface elements with your eyes. Apple has been granted (another) patent (number 9,189,064) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “delay of display event based on user gaze.”
The invention involves methods and systems of delaying the execution of a display event based on a detected user gaze. For example, an autocorrect algorithm can automatically replace a typed word with a corrected word in a text field, generating a display event that causes the corrected word to be displayed instead of the typed word.
Per the patent, an electronic device can include a display that displays content intended to be viewed by a user. The content can change based on changing context. For example, when an instant message is received by the device, a pop-up notification can be displayed indicating to the user that a new message has been received.
However, if the user isn’t looking at the portion of the display with the pop-up notification, or not looking at the display at all, the user may miss the notification altogether. The invention would only allow the notification to appear if the user were looking at the device screen.
This isn’t the first patent by Apple for gaze technology technology. In 2013, the company was granted a patent (number 20130135198) electronic device may have gaze detection capabilities that allow the device to detect when a user is looking at the device.
The electronic device may implement a power management scheme using the results of gaze detection operations. When the device detects that the user has looked away from the device, the device may dim a display screen and may perform other suitable actions.
The device may pause a video playback operation when the device detects that the user has looked away from the device. The device may resume the video playback operation when the device detects that the user is looking towards the device. Gaze detector circuitry may be powered down when sensor data indicates that gazed detection readings will not be reliable or are not needed.
Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Electronic devices such as portable electronic devices are becoming increasingly popular. Examples of portable devices include handheld computers, cellular telephones, media players, and hybrid devices that include the functionality of multiple devices of this type. Popular portable electronic devices that are somewhat larger than traditional handheld electronic devices include laptop computers and tablet computers.
"To satisfy consumer demand for small form factor portable electronic devices, manufacturers are continually striving to reduce the size of components that are used in these devices. For example, manufacturers have made attempts to miniaturize the batteries used in portable electronic devices.
"An electronic device with a small battery has limited battery capacity. Unless care is taken to consume power wisely, an electronic device with a small battery may exhibit unacceptably short battery life. Techniques for reducing power consumption may be particularly important in wireless devices that support cellular telephone communications, because users of cellular telephone devices often demand long 'talk' times.
"Conventional portable electronic devices use various techniques for reducing their power consumption. Because display screens in electronic devices can consume relatively large amounts of power, power conservation techniques in portable electronic devices with display screens typically involve turning off the display screens at particular times.
"Unfortunately, conventional power conservation techniques may turn off display screens at inappropriate times, thereby interfering with a user's ability to interact with a device. Conventional techniques may also leave display screens on at inappropriate times, wasting valuable battery power. It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved ways in which to conserve power in electronic devices."