Websites that know what you’re doing!

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed software for web-sites that ‘predicts’ what the user is thinking.

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By  Kieran Potts Published  September 11, 2001

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, United States, are developing software for web-sites that ‘predicts’ what the user is thinking and how they behave while browsing the Internet.

Conventional web interfaces can respond only to mouse clicks. MIT have developed software that analyses all mouse movements and from this infers what the person is thinking. For example, a user may ‘hover’ the mouse pointer over a button for a second but without clicking it. The web-page would then be able to respond by providing content related to the subject of that button in addition to the information explicitly demanded by the user.

The software is the outcome of extensive research into mouse behaviour trends. MIT found certain mouse behaviours, common across many users, which would be useful for content providers in increasing the helpfulness of their interface design.

The system has been codenamed ‘Cheese’ – the software follows the mouse like a mouse follows cheese. It does not require any additional software to your Internet browser. The developers now plan to put a website together, based on Cheese technology.

Situation-awareness on the part of the computer will perhaps, one day, reduce the amount of explicit input required by the user. In an article titled “Context-aware design and interaction in computer systems” (IBM Systems Journal, v.39 no.3/4), Ted Selker and Winslow Burleson, two of the developers behind Cheese, said, “Context-aware systems sense or remember information about the person and [their] emotional or physical situation in order to reduce computer-user communication and effort.

“… The emerging field of context-aware systems supports people’s acceptance of computational technologies entering their lives. Context aware systems will respect and adapt to people’s views of themselves.”

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