SwitchBack: Using Focus and Saccade Tracking to Guide Users’ Attention for Mobile Task Resumption

Alex Mariakakis, Mayank Goel, Md. Tanvir Islam Aumi, Shwetak Patel, Jacob O. Wobbrock
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SwitchBack uses gaze tracking on smartphones to guide attention for task resumption.

Abstract

Smartphones and tablets are often used in dynamic environments that force users to break focus and attend to their surroundings, creating a form of “situational impairment.” Current mobile devices have no ability to sense when users divert or restore their attention, let alone provide support for resuming tasks. We therefore introduce SwitchBack, a system that allows mobile device users to resume tasks more efficiently. SwitchBack is built upon Focus and Saccade Tracking (FAST), which uses the front-facing camera to determine when the user is looking and how their eyes are moving across the screen. In a controlled study, we found that FAST can identify how many lines the user has read in a body of text within a mean absolute percent error of just 3.9%. We then tested SwitchBack in a dual focus-of-attention task, finding that SwitchBack improved average reading speed by 7.7% in the presence of distractions.