One of the main metrics that Web advertisers use to measure their work is “impressions” or “eyeballs,” or the number of times a particular ad has been viewed. This is pretty easy to measure on the Web because Web servers keep track of data like the number of times a particular ad is served up or the number of times it is clicked. New technology is on the horizon that would let advertisers get some of the same measures from other ads, like billboards, posters, digital signage, or any kind of sign on which a camera can be mounted. The camera emits infrared light and is able to detect eyes focusing on the camera by looking for the red-eye that we all want to filter out of our photographs.

High-tech tracker has its eye on you (Ottawa Sun)

Eyeballing new technology (Sydney Morning Herald)

New technologies dealing with the eyes and vision continue to advance leaps and bounds and have the potential to cure blindness, improve security, and allow the eyes to serve as a pointing device. In addition, researchers have identified techniques to extract reflections from the eyes to see what the photographed person could see, even objects outside the person’s peripheral vision.

Researchers recently implanted robotic retinas in the eyes of six patients, giving those patients the ability “to ‘see’ just 16 pixels — enough to identify simple objects and detect movement.” Even further, there is significant research being done in allowing paralysis victims and people with other afflictions like cerebral palsy to use their eyes as pointing devices.

Meet the Eye Cam (MSNBC)

Neuroscience probes new frontiers (CNN)

Boy uses eyes to control computer (BBC)

I have been looking forward to the day that I can interact with a computer without the use of a mouse or keyboard and would love to volunteer for reseach involving using my mind to control a computer directly. The applications that are soon to hit the market are pretty exciting, particularly for advertisers who will finally be able to get some measures of the effectiveness of advertising. However, privacy advocates are on the warpath, decrying the “Big Brother” nature of these developments.

I am hopeful that some of these emerging technologies will improve the ability of people to interface with machines. Researchers are already talking about operating systems that change focus or switch between windows based on what the user is looking at. What would be your ideal interface with a computer? Will you be an early adopter of some of the technologies on the horizon? Join the discussion.