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ERC Advanced Grant to Prof. Hans Gellersen

Today, the European Research Council (ERC) has announced the winners of its 2020 Advanced Grants competition. The funding, worth in total €507 million, will go to 209 leading researchers across Europe – including Professor Hans Gellersen (€2.5 million) from the department. In the GEMINI (Gaze and Eye Movement in Interaction) project, Hans Gellersen will conduct research in eye gaze, 3D User Interfaces, Eye-head coordination, Body-based interfaces and Touchless interaction.

Where we look implicitly reflects our goals and information needs, and we are able to direct our gaze at will and speed across our environment, to efficiently communicate interest and express intent. Therefore, eye movement and gaze interfaces have been an import part of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research for decades. But maybe research has approached the subject in an incomplete manner?

“In decades of HCI research on gaze interfaces, the approach has been to consider eye movement in isolation while ignoring the concurrent movements of the head and body. With GEMINI, I want to develop a fundamentally different approach, which recognizes that visual attention and gaze control are performed in natural and necessary coordination of eyes, head and body” says Hans Gellersen. He continues; “we aim to establish a new conceptual, computational and scientific foundation for gaze and eye movement in interaction, grounded in understanding of eye-head-body coordination and eye movements that stabilize and adapt vision.”

The GEMINI project, aims to pioneer motion-based principles for determining gaze attention in 3D, methods for inferring interaction context from synergetic eye, head, and body movement, and a multimodal framework for "gaze in concert with the body" in which eye-head gaze is extended with gestural and proxemics interaction for a breakthrough in usable touchless interaction with ubiquitous computing. Thus, GEMINI will change how eye movement can be used for interaction. Rather than being used as a separate input, it should be considered central to interaction, and dynamically coupled with other movement of the body.

“The project vision is that users will be able to interact fluidly in 3D with the physical-digital world around them, close-up and at-a-distance, using only their body for input, with eye, head, hand and body movements dynamically combined based on their natural coordination, context and complementarity. This has huge potential for impact on interactive systems where touch is not possible, practical, desirable or safe. If successful, "gaze in concert with the body" may well define the next major HCI paradigm” concludes Hans Gellersen.

In the 2020 call for ERC Advanced Grants, 2,678 applicants submitted their proposals in all fields of research, and only 8% of these candidates were successful. Congratulations to Hans Gellersen.