A PhD candidate working as an intern at eBay shows there’s a practical side to investments in gee-whiz technology by companies like eBay.
Muratcan Cicek published a blog post on Tuesday, “eBay Open-Sources Technology that Uses Head Motion to Navigate User Interface on iPhone X.” The subheading brought home why it matters: “We built a hands-free app to make online shopping easier for people with motor impairments.”
Cicek is only able to do his daily activities with the help of technology, which limits his ability to shop independently. He explained:
“This year as part of my internship project at eBay, my team and I developed HeadGaze, a reusable technology library that tracks head movement on your iPhone X and starting today, the technology is available via open source on GitHub.com. The first of its kind, this technology uses Apple ARKit and the iPhone X camera to track your head motion so you can navigate your phone easily without using your hands.”
His team developed the HeadSwipe app (also open-sourced via HeadGaze), as a test experience that allows users to swipe deals on eBay:
“Specifically, this app empowers people to browse and buy their perfect items with simple head motions. For example, by pointing your head toward the up and down buttons, the app scrolls to different daily deals in different categories (e.g. a vertical swipe). By pointing your head toward left and right buttons, the app swipes items one after another horizontally (e.g. a horizontal swipe) like a carousel.”
Cicek said eBay is dedicated to investigating the profound impact that many expect AI will have on the world and wants to encourage developers to build more apps that don’t require screen touch.
“With 39.5 million Americans currently considered physically disabled, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we saw an opportunity to create a tool that would promote independence,” he wrote.
But there are practical applications for those without disabilities, he said. “Tired of trying to scroll through a recipe on your phone screen with greasy fingers while cooking? Too messy to follow the how-to manual on your cell phone while you’re tinkering with the car engine under the hood? Too cold to remove your gloves to use your phone?”
You can read his full post on the eBay blog.