iPhone game tracks face movement for in-game navigation

Umoove Experience is the first game on the iTunes app store that tracks your head movement to control your movement in the game.

Umoove Experience is the first game on the iTunes app store that tracks your head movement to control your movement in the game.

(Credit: Umoove)

Eye tracking in mobile devices is still in its infancy — but one Jerusalem-based company has been working on a software solution for some time. Called Umoove, it aims to integrate face and eye tracking into mobile apps for a variety of applications, including scrolling down a page — and, of course, games.

The company's first game, Umoove Experience: The 3D Face & Eye Tracking Flying Game, has now launched and is available for free on the iTunes app store. As far as games go, it's very basic: you move around an environment (in this case, flying through a desert village), collecting potions to keep yourself aloft.

There is, however, one key difference: rather than touching the screen to move, you move your head left, right, up and down to move in the corresponding direction in the game.

Once the technology is working as it should, we imagine it'll be pretty amazing, and in the company's demos it certainly looks impressive. Playing Umoove Experience on an iPod Touch 5, though, leaves a lot to be desired.

Upon starting the game, you are asked to calibrate with a simple series of head movements. Then you're launched into the game, where whether or not the controls will actually work is very hit-and-miss. We found that the controls would overshoot or — far more likely — simply fail to respond to head movements at all.

Umoove describes what it has built:

Umoove has created a software-only face and eye tracking technology, built especially to facilitate the challenges in mobile environments such as shakiness, lighting and limited hardware resources. The technology runs at a CPU as low as 5% in real-time and needs nothing but the raw frames of the front-facing camera for input. On top of the core technology, Umoove has developed an interpretation layer which turns the face and eye movements into a language of interaction and valuable data. Umoove's technology is built on top of unique algorithms and has over fifteen patent files pending.

We actually have no doubt that the potential for the Umoove software is there, but Umoove Experience: The 3D Face & Eye Tracking Flying Game is, at this point in time, a pretty poor expression of that potential.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can find it for free on the iTunes app store. It will be arriving soon for Android.

 

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