Recently Samsung announced the 'Eye Scroll' feature for the new Galaxy S4. The function uses the handset's front camera to track the user's eyes and automatically scroll content until they reach the bottom of the screen.
What does this mean for mobile? Technology that can detect eye movement with enough accuracy to determine where a person's attention is focused can potentially bring tremendous innovation to the application market, not to mention lucrative opportunities for mobile marketers and merchants. Hitherto the stuff of sci-fi fantasy, devices that pay as much attention to you as you do to them are well and truly on their way. This could well be the future of the mobile web, but if handsets can be engineered to adapt to individual user habits, so too must the universal web learn to adapt to individual devices.
It is easy enough to imagine a website that will automatically tailor itself to a device. Since the advent of the mobile web, consumers have come to expect a fluid user experience on any website they visit, demanding immediate adjustment to fit their screen size, resolution, operating system and browser. However, even in today's advanced technological landscape, many enterprises are struggling to provide the frictionless user experience that is asked of them. Why? Partly it's to do with the sheer numbers of different devices out there. In 2012, OpenSignalMaps found nearly 4,000 different Android devices. Netbiscuit's own Mobile Web Metrics Report found that the top 10 most commonly used mobile devices account for only 56% of global traffic share. These figures demonstrate why the reality of a fully adaptive universal web is still some way off.
But just how important is user experience and personalised contextual content? - The justification for this kind of adaptive design is the same as the justification for technologies such as 'Eye Scroll'. A phone that is tailored to your preferences is better than one that isn't. In the same way, a website that is tailored to your device is better than one that isn't. Enterprises can use technologies to monitor the details (handset make, OS, screen resolution) of handheld devices their customers are using when they access their mobile sites. This creates an enhanced web-viewing experience, fully optimised for each individual. For brands, it means more time spent on sites by users and therefore higher conversion and interaction.
Personalisation is hardly a new concept in mobile marketing, but it is a key factor in the success of brands and enterprises that are finally "going mobile". However, providing a tailored service does not begin with the content of a mobile website. It begins with the entire experience. In 2011, Compuware Corporation found that nearly 60% of web users expect a website to load on their mobile phone in three seconds or less and 74% stated that they would not wait for more than five seconds. The ability to offer a smooth and customised web experience that delivers contextual relevance based on the customer's immediate actions or needs requires personalisation. Undoubtedly then, functions such as Eye Scroll will eventually become more mainstream, as the value in tailored mobile experiences becomes fully realised.
Plenty of companies today are considering the most effective methods of interacting with their customers. It is crucial to also consider how customers are interacting with companies - from their device of choice, to their preferred content. Identifying customer need and catering to it immediately is the first step to any successful mobile enterprise strategy. This is what Eye Scroll looks like its setting out to do, and this highly interactive and personalised experience is the direction we see web technology headed towards.