I want to talk about the useful application Blink, which uses Apple technology called Eye Tracking and trains the eye muscles.
How much is
The program is free, here is the link in the App Store. No in-app purchases or ads. Just download and use.
Where does it work
To use Blink, you need an Apple device with Eye Tracking support – the program runs on iPhone X / XS, XR, 11, and so on. Simply put, you need an iPhone with a "monobrow" or iPad Pro.
You need to perform simple exercises, following the recommendations of the application. The phone monitors eye movements, but sometimes misfires occur, and the program does not count the action. However, this is a matter of habit and the quality of lighting in the room.
The program does not promise any miracles like instant improvement in visual acuity, just exercises to relieve tension. No need to keep in mind the actions, take it, just follow the instructions of the program. Do the exercises one by one, and you will feel the correctness of the action using the vibration of the phone.
What is Eye Tracking?
Apple's technology called Eye Tracking appeared two years ago when the iPhone X with Face ID support went on sale. In addition to unlocking the face, we got other features. The Blink app is an example of how developers use technology to track their gaze.
If you are interested, you can read the voluminous Wikipedia article on the topic of “IT tracking” or oculography – the history and prospects of this technology are described in detail there.
Why is this program needed?
It is useful to do exercises for the eyes, but not all follow the recommendations of the optometrist. Simple exercises for the eyes and I was advised to do when my eyesight worsened during school years. I did, then I was lazy, then I did again – my eyesight was getting worse, then I immediately switched to contact lenses and take them off only at night. Perhaps the program will help you maintain your vision at the same level.
Alternatively, you can download one of these instructions on the Internet and perform exercises on a piece of paper if the household does not have a suitable smartphone
At a minimum, a set of simple exercises helps the eyes relax. It is not for nothing that they advise everyone who sits at the computer for hours to take small breaks for at least 5-10 minutes. Look into the distance, through the window, and if there is no window, at least turn your head to the side and try to examine objects from a colleague at the next table.
Questions to the developer
I talked with Arseny, he released an application with his friends and talked about the Blink project:
We started our story with a hackathon on June 1 in Minsk as part of the EMERGE IT conference, the judges were the developers of the Masqarad application. We wanted to see the audience’s reaction to the program using Eye Tracking on a smartphone. They expected a positive reaction, but were ready for a neutral and even negative one. As a result, we won, received a response – people liked the idea.
We have a small team, so we do marketing, development and design on our own and are not dependent on anyone. We work like a real startup after the main work in the evenings and weekends!
Eye Tracking is a fairly new technology in general in the industry, and for Apple in particular. Despite this, it is implemented quite well. But this does not mean that the process was seamless and without complexity. Most importantly, a TrueDepth camera produces raw data, albeit very accurate when viewed in an abstract way.
We had to train the application to adapt to a specific user in specific lighting conditions. Simply put, each person has a completely different way of looking around. Most of all, these “gaze features” created difficulties with circular exercises. In the process of testing, it was found out that many people physically do not know how or have forgotten how to draw circles with their eyes, as they did in school. I had to adjust, but it was impossible to lower the bar and make the exercise too easy for those who still know how or suddenly remembered how to perform circular exercises.
How much does development cost
I was interested to know how much it costs to create such a program; Arseniy shared the costs of the project.
Total expenses amounted to 99,093 rubles, of which:
Test iPhone XR – 51 410 rubles;
Localization of the landing page in the App Store – 19,086 rubles;
Costs of promotional materials (video, application translations, and so on on trifles) – 17,930 rubles;
Purchase of a developer account – 6362 rubles;
Domain and hosting purchase – 4305 rubles.
Arseny told about plans for the future, and about what the developers saw after publishing the application on the App Store:
If to summarize the work done, we can distinguish the following.
The goal of the first release is to collect feedback. Another important task is to understand whether the user experience has been successfully implemented from the moment of getting to the page in the App Store to the full completion of the entire exercise cycle.
Draw conclusions: there is interest in the application. After all, the best indicator is numbers. We received 6,500 organic plants in a month and a half and an average rating of 4.8.
Soon there will be a new version of the application with diagonal exercises. In a week we’ll add an exercise where the proximity sensor is used. You will need to turn the phone face down and take a break from the smartphone for a while. Thanks to the sensor, we understand whether a person touches the smartphone or not.
And one more of the future exercises: we will measure the distance of the smartphone from the face to make the classic exercise “focus on a point near, give your hand and focus on a point far away”.
I liked the application: it is simple, it makes you a little distracted and spend a few minutes with benefit for yourself. Try it and you, you can send me your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or share your opinion in the comments.
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