When it comes to multitasking at work, fighter pilots have most of us beat. They must concentrate on the mission at hand, keep eyes on the troops on the ground, and stay in constant communication with their base – all while controlling a sophisticated aircraft tens of thousands of feet in the air.
Cockpit designers are always looking for ways to streamline navigation for fighter pilots, and they are considering how eye tracking technology might help them to do so. Combat pilots often need to control multiple scenarios at once, from tracking an unidentified aircraft to watching a live video feed of troops on the ground. With everything going on around them, pilots should not have to navigate complicated and cluttered dials and instruments to control the plane, too.
The idea is to keep pilots’ eyes focused on what is happening outside their window, so designers want to put as much information as possible in front of their eyes, through technology. Aircraft designers are considering technologies that help the pilot stay aware of what is happening with the plane without having to break away from the mission to check on something in the cockpit, such as fuel level.
Helmet-mounted displays, voice-activated controls, and airliner-style control sticks are options, but designers want to use even more innovative measures. Modern technologies, such as neuro control, augmented reality, and eye tracking technology, are being explored to help pilots with decision-making while juggling multiple critical situations. For example, perhaps eye tracking could point designers to the best locations for controls within the cockpit, or move digital displays within helmets to the exact location a pilot is looking for faster information-gathering while on a mission.
It’s exciting to see the many applications of eye tracking technology as innovators in all areas of industry look to it for safer, more effective processes and improved lives.