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Facebook working on mysterious ‘authentic’ robot eyeball that could track where humans are looking

The eye would ‘resemble a human eye’ that would appear ‘authentic to an observer’

Adam Smith
Tuesday 18 January 2022 16:58
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Facebook has patented a new technology for an “authentic” robot eye.

The idea, granted in December, would let the social media company build a "high performing and realistic" eyeball that would be like an "animatronic device" to track humans’ eye movements.

Tracking eye movements is used in digital ads to detect what people look at, as well as by its parent company Meta’s virtual reality applications. This could make it easier to load virtual items in a VR environment – only generating items that the user is looking at.

Meta says that the metaverse does not necessitate being online more but being online in a “more meaningful” way, and will be built by multiple companies.

For now it is unclear exactly what this vision will look like, but Meta has released a VR social experience called Horizon Worlds on its Oculus platform.

The patent, as Business Insider reports, could be part of a head that "mimics other human movements" like mouth and eyebrows, with a "body coupled to the head” covered in a material "resembling human skin."

The eye could be designed to “resemble a human eye” with a pupil and coloured iris, so that the entire system would "appear authentic to an observer." It is unclear what exactly why this authenticity would be required.

“While we don’t comment on specific coverage of our patents or our reasons for filing them, it’s important to note that our patents don’t necessarily cover the technology used in our products and services”, a company spokesperson said.

In a Facebook post in November, Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the company was trying to “understand the world through touch” by designing a “high-res touch sensor”.

This technology was used to “create a thin robot skin” which apparently brings the company “one step closer to realistic virtual objects and physical interactions in the metaverse.”

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