Netflix has shared some of the highlights of its latest ‘Hack Day’, in which employees are invited to experiment with new ideas and technologies.
The most interesting concept to have come out of the autumn event is undoubtedly eye-tracking for touch-free navigation.
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A team of three (John Fox, Steve Henderson and the highly appropriately named Ben Hands) came up with the idea, which relies on Apple’s ARKit.
“Apple’s ARKit is a lot of fun to play with, and has enabled much-loved features like Animoji,” the group explained. “We care a lot about Accessibility, so we’re eager to try a hack that would allow people to navigate the iOS app just by moving their eyes.
“The same technology that enables Face ID is great for accurately tracking eye position and facial expression. We used eye tracking to move the pointer around the screen, and measured the time spent on the same area to trigger the equivalent of a tap.
“We then used a facial gesture (tongue sticking out) to dismiss a screen. We’re hopeful that this kind of technology will become a part of mainstream Accessibility APIs in the future.”
You can watch the feature in action below:
There’s no guarantee that eye-tracking will now come to the Netflix app, but there’s definitely a chance it could happen.
As the streaming giant explains: “Hack Days are a big deal at Netflix. They’re a chance to bring together employees from all our different disciplines to explore new ideas and experiment with emerging technologies.
“This Hack Day, there were hacks that ranged from making improvements to the product, to enhancing our internal tools, to just having some fun. We know even the silliest idea can spur something more.”
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Previous Hack Day events have spawned ideas like a commute-friendly full-screen vertical player, QuietCast, and Netflix Cheats, a system that would prevent anyone from watching a show you’re meant to be watching together when you’re not around.
What new features do you want Netflix to introduce? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.