The eyes are supposed to be the windows to the soul, and they can tell a lot about a person. Many people consider someone who speaks while looking the other person in the eye trustworthy and confident. Someone who avoids eye contact is either considered shy, or they have something to hide. They are many more aspects that can be told about a person from their eye activity than trustworthiness. Now, marketers are looking to use this to their advantage to find out exactly what people are thinking.
Slate’s John Villasenor had this to say about it:
Did our eyes linger for a few seconds on an advertisement that, in the end, we decided not to click on? How do our eyes move as they take in the contents of a page? Are there certain words, phrases, or topics that we appear to prefer or avoid? In the future, will we be served online ads based not only on what we’ve shopped for, but also on the thoughts reflected in our eye movements?
Apple has already applied for a patent to create an eye-tracking device for iPhones and iPads that will understand what each blink a person makes represents, and to pay attention to whether eyes focus on a certain word or image. The European company Senseye is already preparing to install eye-tracking software into smartphones sometime next year.
This is just one more way of turning the consumers into a product. These companies will use the information they gather and sell it to many different marketing companies. These front-facing cameras will not only pay attention to what the user is reading online, but it will assess how that information is read. This will give marketers an idea about what types of adds to send that person’s way.
At the moment the technology has not been fully developed to be this nosey, but it is only a matter of time before someone has worked it out. Most companies that are considering this technology are hoping to have it available by 2015.
It really does seem that more and more companies are considering their customers’ privacy to be of little importance. If it has really come to the point where a phone cannot be owned without the manufacturer being able to assess every thought that the owner thinks about a product, they might have finally gone too far.