Thales is taking a nod from consumer technologies such as video games as it develops enhanced in-flight entertainment systems that track eye movements and hand gestures to prompt selections.
The IFE manufacturer is encouraging air show attendees to try out the latest developments in controlling video screens with eye or hand movements, with two side-by-side displays for visitors to test.
The eye-tracking feature allows passengers to select movies based on where their eyes focus on the screen. If a passenger looks away from the screen the movie will stop and then resume when they return their gaze to the screen. The gesture-based method reacts to a user's motions - such as waving arms or moving a hand closer to the screen - to activate the system.
Thales has been developing the eye-tracking technology for about a year and a half, says Stuart Dunleavy, vice-president for connectivity and media. He says it is still exploring how the industry will use the eye-tracking feature on commercial aircraft, but that it is showcasing the possibilities available for controlling these systems.
"We're not sure it will ever see its way onto an aircraft," says Dunleavy, noting that it is still in the process of assessing which types of applications will work best with each technology and gaining feedback from user tests. However, airlines are engaged in conversations about implementing the concepts, especially for the more mature gesture control technology.
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