Recent projections by the US federal government estimate that there will be 200,000 new coronavirus cases in the US by June 1. At the same time, governments around the world are grappling with the complexities of safely reopening businesses, schools and other public institutions.
Technology companies are rushing into that gap with software aimed at keeping people safe, while citizens navigate a patchwork approach to easing shelter-in-place orders. One well-known approach is the use of contact-tracing apps on smart phones created by tech and telecom companies. These apps alert people if they’ve been in close proximity to an infected person.
But other technologies can help. When businesses and other institutions open up, they will need to do a lot of things differently. A new technology called “gaze control” allows people to avoid touching surfaces, like ATM display screens or subway-fare vending machine, that may be potentially contaminated with the virus. Stephan Odörfer is founder and managing director of Munich-based 4tiitoo (pronounced “42”), a startup that creates gaze control technology. Put simply, this technology lets people use their eyes to interact with computers, replacing the need to touch a keyboard, mouse or screen.
Moreover, 4tiitoo has combined gaze control with AI to analyze patterns in users’ eye movement and predict what people want to do next within a particular computer screen or application. “Gaze control allows you to do two things. It controls the computer and we can use it to get an understanding of what the user actually wants to do, “said Odörfer. “By understanding intention, we can proactively support him.”