Building a Better Mirror and Losing the Mouse

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The MIT Review is one of the best places to find out about exciting technology research and breakthroughs. But these days, it's more focused on bio-tech and fuel-tech than, well, tech-tech.


Fortunately, there's always the column, "From the Labs: Information Technology." What's nice about this column is that it tells you where the technology came from -- specifically, the research paper -- explains why it matters, the method and what's the next step in the technology's evolution.


This month's write-up focuses on better, smaller mirrors for laser technologies and eyepoint, a new and better eye-tracking system.


The mirror breakthrough has to do with how many layers are in the mirrors for optoelectronic devices, which includes lasers. Currently, these mirrors will have more than 80 layers, but the breakthrough is a mirror with only one layer, allowing you to make a cheaper, thinner and more efficient mirror.


In the long run, the new mirror technology may have a broader impact, but those worried about carpal tunnel syndrome will want to read on to the second highlighted technology: Eyepoint.


Eyetracking has been around for some time. The idea is to use your eyes to navigate on your computer, thereby replacing your mouse. Obviously, this hasn't been widely adopted, though it is sometimes used with the disabled.


Eyepoint uses standard eye-tracking hardware, but adds a hot key that basically allows you to navigate just as you would with a mouse. So far, there's an error rate of 20 percent, mostly because people think they're focusing on something when really they're seeing it in their peripheral vision.