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Blog: The Aware Device


Intuitive PCs, Smart Sensors, Attention-Sensing Software, AI & the Humanization of Technology

Today, Tobii unveiled the next generation of its Tobii Aware software. This dramatically increases the range of PCs that can immediately benefit from Tobii technology, delivering a defined set of benefits related to privacy, security, digital wellbeing, enhanced device performance, and increased efficiency.

This is a leading step in Tobii’s mission to humanize technology.

AI and Attention-Sensing Software

The world of smart devices is here. It’s not a question of if anymore, but more a question of when all potential everyday devices will be “enabled”. Smartphones, tablets, TVs, cars, speakers, watches, light-bulbs, refrigerators, microwaves… and everything else with increasing surety; with the exploding progress of the Internet of Things, cloud-based services, and the expansion of digital assistants, AI, and Big Data (to mine).

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home lead the race for the ultimate assistant and compete for dominance while Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby compete still and live on in our watches and phones (with Microsoft’s PC assistant Cortana trailing behind).

On the PC side, the race has been slower to take off. Perhaps this is because the broad functionality of PCs is what the other “smart devices” were trying to emulate in the first place, in other types of form factors, for similar types of use cases.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Making devices smart was about putting “computers” in everyday “dumb” devices. PCs were already supposed to be the “smart” devices towards which everything else was growing. Or perhaps for PCs, “smart” has been prioritized as achieving networked devices and cloud-based computing. But these days in tech (and definitely for the future), that just doesn’t seem to be what “smart” means anymore.

These days, smart is humanized interaction. Smart is anticipating our needs. Smart is artificial intuition. Smart is knowing what we are going to do before we get there, and adapting behavior, insights and interactions to meet the need. Perhaps the PC industry has been just been a bit slow to catch up, or to catch on, to the changes. Or perhaps the tech just hasn’t been available yet to implement properly in the consumer world: too costly, or too big of a footprint, or maybe the story just hasn’t been clear.

One thing is certain though, most traditional PCs in the field are not there yet. They haven’t yet reached that level of human understanding, and don’t yet react “intelligently” to real human user insights. Traditional PCs are certainly powerful and versatile, but they are not yet “Aware Devices”.

Most PCs today can be likened to a blindfolded person sitting somewhere, waiting to be told what to do by coded taps on their forearm. The most modern ones might sometimes even understand if you poke them or whisper in their (always listening) ear. But even if they can sometimes parse your words correctly, they don’t understand you. They don’t anticipate you. And they surely don’t proactively help protect you.

Presence detection and head tracking visualization in the Tobii Experience app in Tobii Aware

Tobii is on a mission to humanize technology. Tobii wants to enable the creation of devices that actually do understand you. That understand you through smart sensors, user-sensing computer vision algorithms, machine learning, deep learning and, of course, AI.

Tobii is not alone.

Project Athena

“A little less than eight years ago Intel helped usher in the era of thin-and-light notebook PCs, then called ultrabooks. Now, Intel and a number of its partners are ready to take the ultrabook to the next level with ‘Project Athena,’ in a multi-year roadmap [they unveiled at] CES.” — PC World

Intel’s Project Athena (Intel and Project Athena are trademarks of Intel)

Other than fulfilling the expectation; other than being fast, always on, slim & light, high-performing, all day, next-gen ultrabooks, Athena devices are meant to be designed to anticipate you:

“Ready to go before you are”
“Proactively assist, filter, adapt and optimize” 
“Always ready”

and not least…

“Rooted in human understanding”

“Intel does have some focus areas for Project Athena, though. 5G and AI are top of the list […] Intel is providing PC makers with a roadmap to start bringing Project Athena devices to the market in the second half of 2019. Acer, Asus, Dell, Google, HP, Innolux, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sharp are all working on Project Athena.” — The Verge

This is the building wave of the PC future.

Devices that are no longer blindfolded. Intuitive, insightful, socially aware devices wrapped in human understanding through computer vision, smart sensors and attention-sensing, machine learning algorithms. And this is exactly where Tobii and Tobii’s partners are going.

Tobii Aware — Technology That Anticipates Your Needs

While Tobii is best known for the advanced capabilities enabled by its eye tracking technology and hardware, eye tracking itself is simply one capability among others that enable broad use cases in diverse areas through the understanding of a person’s intent or attention, their areas of interest, how they want to interact, and what insights they need.

Although eye tracking enabled devices are relatively few today — though growing in number, spearheaded by Tobii’s multi-PC-generation partnership with Dell’s Alienware — and the use cases are expanding out from niche to mainstream, the company’s new, next-generation Tobii Aware software enables a much broader range of devices to gain many of the benefits associated with visually sensing the users.

By combining the hardware capabilities of a Windows Hello camera with Tobii Aware software, a variety of important new system benefits are unlocked, including:

Enhanced Privacy & Security

  • Enhanced feeling of privacy and device security through user ID recognition and automatic presence detection to blur and lock screens.

Digital Wellbeing & Convenience

  • Improved comfort and well-being via insights about screen time and healthy computer usage.
  • More intuitive and intelligent devices that stay awake when the user is present, warp mouse cursors and windows across multiple screens effortlessly, and un-dim or turn on the screen when users returns.

Power Performance

  • Save power and CPU performance in with screens that naturally dim and react to user presence.

The Lenovo Yoga A940

Continuing to build on their growing reputation for adopting new and truly innovative, forward-leaning tech, Lenovo’s launch of the Lenovo Yoga A940, including Tobii Aware, is one of the first ripples in what will soon be a wave of attention-sensing devices.

“Lenovo Smart Assist utilizes AI to anticipate your needs. Your face is your password, with an optional IR camera for hands-free login. And when you step or turn away from your device, your screen will blur and then darken for privacy and security, thanks to Tobii Aware attention-sensing software. ” — Lenovo

The new Lenovo Yoga A940 device includes everything that the next generation Tobii Aware has to offer today, in a sleek package targeted towards creatives.

The new intuitive, attention-sensing, smart PC era is starting. Let the race to the humanization of technology begin!

LENOVO and YOGA are trademarks of Lenovo

Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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