Pervasive Gaze Estimation and Attention Analysis

The Perceptual User Interfaces Group at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, headed by Dr. Andreas Bulling, invites applications for a fully funded PhD studentship on pervasive gaze estimation and attention analysis.

Computer vision is a powerful sensing modality and a key component in state-of-the-art eye tracking systems. However, computer vision also still represents one of its major limitations, particularly in unconstrained daily life settings in which many of the assumptions on which existing algorithms rely can typically not be satisfied, such as stable lighting conditions, stable body and head position, or special-purpose and high-quality cameras. Continuous gaze estimation throughout the day, so-called pervasive eye tracking, promises a paradigm shift in our understanding of how the eyes can be used as an input modality and source of information on user attention.

The proposed PhD project will develop and study image processing and computer vision techniques for pervasive gaze estimation and attention analysis. Potential applications are in visual behaviour monitoring, human- computer interaction, context-aware computing and experimental psychology. The research will be experimental, using stationary and portable cameras and camera systems, and will involve user studies and data collection in daily life settings. In addition to experimental skills, the work will require to develop a thorough understanding of image processing, computer vision and machine learning techniques suitable for pervasive gaze estimation and attention analysis.

The research directions of particular interest include but are not limited to:

  • Real-time image processing algorithms for pupil detection, tracking and gaze estimation in pervasive settings
  • Computer vision and machine learning for attention analysis on situated and hand-held portable devices
  • Image processing and computer vision techniques for multimodal human-computer interaction

The Max Planck Institute for Informatics offers a highly collegiate and stimulating environment for doctoral research training. The successful candidate will join a young and ambitious research group that is at the forefront of this emerging research area. The candidate will be expected to contribute to the strong profile of the group by participating in the preparation and publication of research results at the level of international excellence.

We invite applications from enthusiastic individuals, who are able to work independently and have an excellent first degree in Computer Science or a related field relevant to the proposed research, and very good knowledge of image processing, computer vision or machine learning for computer vision. The studentship is not restricted by nationality. Interested applicants are advised to consult previous work on pervasive eye tracking [1,2]. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to initiate contact with Dr. Andreas Bulling prior to their application.

Applicants should submit their CV, a copy of school and university degree and course transcripts with grades (Abitur, Vor- and Hauptdiplom for German applicants), names and contact information of two references, a description of research interests and a short research proposal. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applications should be emailed to Review of applications will start on 1st March 2013. Applications are accepted until the position is filled.

[1] L. Swirski, A. Bulling, N. Dodgson (2012) Robust, real-time pupil tracking in highly off-axis images
Proc. ETRA 2012: pages 173-176

[2] Y. Zhang, A. Bulling, H. Gellersen (2013) SideWays: A Gaze Interface for Spontaneous Interaction with Situated Displays
Proc. CHI 2013, to appear