Bloomberg-Supported Eye Gaze Tracking App Could Help Save Lives

Each year in the United States, distracted driving by long distance truck drivers costs the American economy $99 billion and causes the deaths of more than 3,400 people.

In August 2014, MBA and CS MEng students at Cornell Tech’s new campus in New York looked for a solution to this costly phenomenon. Accepting Bloomberg’s challenge to improve current eye gaze tracking technology, the team of students (Team Theia) developed an innovative mobile app for long-distance truck drivers that alerts them when they are being inattentive. They also explored potential UX applications in Bloomberg’s UX Lab.

How the App Works
The Java Android mobile app is mounted on the dashboard of a car or truck. The app tracks the driver’s eye gaze in real-time using a template matching algorithm. From this, the app classifies regions where the driver is focused or distracted. If the eye gaze of the driver exits the “focused” region, an alarm sounds to alert the driver. This app is unlike other eye gaze tracking systems because it does not depend on the red-eye effect (caused by infrared light) or other external accessories and is accessible to the majority of the trucking industry.

Check out this 35-second demo.

Team Theia
Team Theia presented their final work on December 12, 2014 at Bloomberg’s world headquarters for 60-plus employees from R&D, Core, HR, CTO, and Global Data. They also presented the product on their campus to technology media, the larger Cornell Tech community, and some of the other project sponsors, including Google, LinkedIn, eBay, Microsoft, AOL, and Qualcomm.

Beyond their project work, students also attended Bloomberg’s Next Big Thing conference to see startup ideas firsthand, endured three 24-hour hack days to make significant progress on their app, presented at a reverse career fair (in which the recruiters, not the students, walk around to sell their companies and recruit bright students), and perfected their pitch at a recorded practice session in a Bloomberg TV studio.

The Bloomberg teams contributing to the Cornell Tech project’s success includes R&D and Global Data. This is the second collaboration between Bloomberg and the Cornell Tech program. The first occurred during the inaugural Spring 2013 semester as an extension of our presence in the NYC tech community.