At Wired, Eliot Van Buskirk describes research demonstrated a few months back where eye tracking technology is used to bring some intriguing possiblities to the experience of reading. I think this is continuous with Clive Thompson’s thoughts on the future of reading. Eliot does an excellent job of teasing out both the potential and the pitfalls. Ultimately this suggests how electronic books, which I personally feel improve very little on their print cousins, might being start to open that gap a bit more.
Initially, I think capabilities that don’t require anything from the original author, like the skimming mode, are most likely to improve the appeal of reading electronic text. As much as implementers can keep that cost down, they’ll help avoid a re-tooling curve that could kill this particular venue.
As for implementations, I think this is something an open platform, like Android, could tackle quite easily. I am a bit concerned about the mention of Apple acquiring several key patents. I suppose the ultimate outcome of Apple’s current suit against HTC over some of the key patents in the smart phone space might foreshadow whether they are likely to try to tie up novel uses of gaze tracking as well.