Tobii Invention Lets Viewers Mute Characters With Eye Gaze

If the invention patented Tuesday by Swedish eye tracking technology vendor Tobii is deployed, viewers would be able to mute individual characters on a TV show or video game by gazing at locations on a screen.

Comcast is among the service providers that have looked at using Tobii software to let viewers navigate by gazing at sections of a screen. This reporter tested a Tobii-powered version of Xfinity Remote during a visit to Comcast Labs last fall. (Note: we agreed to not show the user interface in this image).Comcast Tobii demo

MobiTV has also tested program guides for tablets and smartphones that use eye tracking technology.

Anders Vennstrom is named as inventor on the Tobii patent, titled, “Systems and methods for providing audio to a user based on gaze input.”

Abstract: According to the invention, a method for providing audio to a user is disclosed. The method may include determining, with an eye tracking device, a gaze point of a user on a display. The method may also include causing, with a computer system, an audio device to produce audio to the user, where content of the audio may be based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display.

Patent

Claims:

1. A method for providing audio to a user, wherein the method comprises: determining a gaze point of a user on a display; determining how many sound channels are produced by an audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; causing the audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining head information associated with the user; wherein content of the audio is further based at least in part on the head information associated with the user; and wherein content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises a sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

2. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: audio content associated with a particular area of the display in which the gaze point of the user is located, wherein the particular area is a sub-portion of a total area of the display.

3. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 2, wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point further comprises: no audio content associated with a remainder of the display besides the particular area.

4. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: audio content associated with a particular area of the display in which the gaze point of the user is located, at a first volume, wherein the particular area is a sub-portion of a total area of the display; and audio content associated with a remainder of the display besides the particular area, at a second volume, wherein the first volume is greater than the second volume.

5. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein determining how many sound channels are produced by the audio device comprises: determining how many simulated sound channels are produced by the audio device.

6. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point further comprises: no audio content associated with at least one sound channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

7. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 6, wherein at least one sound channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located comprises: all sound channels not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

8. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein the method further comprises: the sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located, at a first volume; and at least one sound channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located, at a second volume, wherein the first volume is greater than the second volume.

9. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 8, wherein at least one sound channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located comprises: all sound channels not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

10. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein the method further comprises: determining a virtual distance and direction from each of a plurality of virtual sound sources to the gaze point of the user on the display; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: each virtual sound source being produced in a manner based at least in part on the virtual distance and direction from the virtual sound source to the gaze point of the user.

11. The method for providing audio to a user of claim 10, wherein each virtual sound source being produced in a manner based at least in part on the virtual distance and direction from the virtual sound source to the gaze point of the user comprises: reproducing multiple audio sources at multiple dynamic volumes.

12. The method for performing audio to a user of claim 1, wherein causing the audio device to produce audio to the user comprises: modifying the audio produced based upon the gaze point remaining fixated for at least a predetermined threshold of time.

13. A system for providing audio to a user, wherein the system comprises: an eye tracking device for at least determining a gaze point of a user on a display; a computer system for at least: causing an audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining how many sound channels are produced by the audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: at least a first frequency of sound on a first sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located; and at least a second frequency of sound on a second channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

14. The system for providing audio to a user of claim 13, wherein the computer system is further for at least: determining how many sound channels are produced by the audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises a sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

15. The system for providing audio to a user of claim 13, wherein the computer system is further for at least: determining a virtual distance and direction from each of a plurality of virtual sound sources to the gaze point of the user on the display; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: each virtual sound source being produced in a manner based at least in part on the virtual distance and direction from the virtual sound source to the gaze point of the user.

16. A non-transitory machine readable medium with instructions stored thereon for providing audio to a user, the instructions executable by at least one processor for at least: determining a gaze point of a user on a display; determining how many sound channels are produced by an audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; causing an audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining a virtual distance and direction from each of a plurality of virtual sound sources to the gaze point of the user on the display; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: each virtual sound source being produced in a manner based at least in part on the virtual distance and direction from the virtual sound source to the gaze point of the user; and a sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

17. A non-transitory machine readable medium with instructions stored thereon for providing audio to a user, the instructions executable by at least one processor for at least: determining a gaze point of a user on a display; causing an audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining how many sound channels are produced by the audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises a sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

18. A method for providing audio to a user, wherein the method comprises: determining a gaze point of a user on a display; determining how many sound channels are produced by an audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; causing the audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining head information associated with the user; wherein content of the audio is further based at least in part on the head information associated with the user; and wherein content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: at least a first frequency of sound on a first sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located; and at least a second frequency of sound on a second channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.

19. A non-transitory machine readable medium with instructions stored thereon for providing audio to a user, the instructions executable by at least one processor for at least: determining a gaze point of a user on a display; determining how many sound channels are produced by an audio device; determining a particular area of the display which is associated with each sound channel determined to be produced by the audio device; causing an audio device to produce audio to the user, wherein content of the audio is based at least in part on the gaze point of the user on the display; determining a virtual distance and direction from each of a plurality of virtual sound sources to the gaze point of the user on the display; and wherein the content of the audio being based at least in part on the gaze point comprises: each virtual sound source being produced in a manner based at least in part on the virtual distance and direction from the virtual sound source to the gaze point of the user; at least a first frequency of sound on a first sound channel associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located; and at least a second frequency of sound on a second channel not associated with the particular area in which the gaze point of the user is located.