A colleague of mine passed this along and I thought DT readers might be interested as well.
Tracking eye movements can let a computer know when someone is paying attention and identify exactly what they are interested in, but it's also a tricky business. Most systems work by using a camera and image recognition software to identify a person's pupils and work out the direction of their gaze.
In real-life situations, however, tracking systems can be easily confused by rapid head movement or spectacles.
Now, the Office of Naval Research is looking for better ways of tracking eyes in the hope of developing military applications, such as tracking a fighter pilot's gaze.
So it has a funded James DiCarlo, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, US, to develop a magnetic contact lens.
A soldier would wear the lenses and a magnetic sensor attached to the side of his or her head. The sensor picks up any changes in the local magnetic field and works out how the wearer's eyes are moving.
The system should work regardless of head orientation and movement, lighting condition,s or "face furniture" such as goggles or glasses. The team says the magnetic lenses could also let disabled people control equipment such as wheelchairs.