My iPad should have a gaze-controlled cursor

17.55, Thursday 4 Mar 2021

My setup is that I have my monitor on the left (with a Mac mini), and my iPad on the right. I copy and paste between the two like crazy. Honestly that feature is magic.

(It’s like this so I can use my iPad for video calls and music, and keep notes or screen share from my desktop. I have a desktop because my laptop blew up and, unintentionally, this has done wonders for my work/life boundaries.)

But my iPad is juuust out of reach and it drives me crazy.

I should be able to control the iPad cursor with my eyes.

(Have you used a mouse with an iPad? It’s not an arrow. The screen elements “underneath” the cursor grow and pop - this article has some GIFs - and when you’re not pointing at anything, the cursor is a translucent circle. It works amazingly well. I’m hoping to never own another Mac laptop, but I will upgrade my iPad to the next version as soon as it’s out.)

Clearly I don’t want to be controlling my iPad cursor with my eyes the whole time. So to trigger this, I should stare right into the camera and double blink. Double blinking can be the “Hey Siri”/wake word equivalent for gaze control.

A tap can be another double blink. Look away for 2 seconds to dismiss the cursor.

Oh and then, text input:

When I’m not at my desk, I often use my iPad at the kitchen table. Recently I’ve using the Pencil and writing into text boxes, or hitting the microphone button on the keyboard and using dictation. When you’re speaking and writing just a word or two, this hybrid approach works pretty well.

So while my gaze is resting on a text box, let me activate dictation my making a noise, maybe a click with my tongue.

I’m not sure about indicating that I want to end a dictation session. It has to be a deliberate but rare vocalisation. Maybe blowing a kiss to my iPad, mwah.

Let’s say this become a thing. I wonder how it would change the semiotics of looking and control? People already say in corporate environments, with no irony, let’s double click on that, and it makes sense. But, like, if someone were to make eye contact with you and then double blink. In that scenario you would become the cursor. They would possess you with their gaze.

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