Eye Tracking

By Mark Nuyens
5 min. read📱 Technology

Apple's innovative headset enables interaction through vision and gestures alone. Yet, there are some ethical concerns about the way third parties might exploit this feature, sharing details of precisely what captured your attention during your interactions.

With the much-anticipated launch of Apple's Vision Pro, a groundbreaking headset designed for augmented and virtual reality experiences, there are some ethical considerations worth discussing. While this innovation offers exciting possibilities for content creation, it also raises profound ethical questions.

Apple's demo showcased its headset's killer feature: the ability to control user interfaces simply by using one's gaze and gentle finger touches, minimizing the reliance on traditional hardware controllers. An elegant and seamless approach, in line with the philosophy Apple is known for. Interestingly, this article suggests they initially considered a finger-worn controller, but in the end went for eye-hand control. Meanwhile, Meta is also exploring hands-free capabilities for their forthcoming headsets, indicating a broader industry trend.

However, what interests me the most is the potential of this eye-tracking technology to extend its influence beyond gaming and immersive content consumption. For example, when it's used for browsing the web. In this context, the user's gaze-and-pinch interaction would essentially replace the traditional hover and click. However, the critical question arises: to what extent will webpages have the capability to detect and respond to these eye-tracking interactions? If each eye movement can be carefully registered and stored, then what prevents third parties from abusing this data?

Imagine your data being traded to advertisers, offering them an detailed map of your digital footprint, including the exact words and elements that captured your attention. Advertisors would gain unprecedented insights into user behavior, especially when combined with the powers of AI. They would obtain highly detailed and intimate information about user preferences and interests. When you consider how much data is already stored about you through page visits alone, just think of the amount of data they would collect if they could peer through your eyes at any given moment.

Such a shift toward eye-tracking interactions in web environments might redefine the dynamics of digital advertising and user engagement. However, it's important to keep in mind that these concerns are mostly speculative at this point. The changes of this scenario becoming a reality hinges on the policies and decisions of companies like Apple and Meta. Whether third parties will be permitted to access eye-tracking data, and if regulatory measures should be established to safeguard user privacy, remain open questions for now.

This concern underscores the broader issue of maintaining control over our digital experiences, particularly when it comes to using our eyes and gestures as input methods. The convenience and innovation this technology promises must be weighed against the potential risks to privacy, data security, and user autonomy. If we embrace these technological advancements, we should do so with a conscious awareness of the ethical aspects and a commitment to finding a balance between convenience and security.