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Researchers Aim to Refocus Wandering Minds

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A daydreaming student.

A prototype system developed by researchers at the University of Notre Dame reportedly can detect when the mind of a student in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics class is wandering.


University of Notre Dame researchers led by professor Sidney D'Mello say they have developed a prototype system that can detect when the mind of a student in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) class is wandering.

The system uses a commercial eye tracker and Webcam to track a person's eye movement, facial features, and interaction patterns. If it determines the student's mind is wandering, the system can pause the session, notify the person, highlight the content, display the missed content in another format, or tag the content for future study.

The researchers note the system also has the potential to assess course materials based on how well they engage students' attention.

The team wants to develop a user interface that is intelligent enough to spot waning attention and take action.

The U.S. National Science Foundation is funding the project, which also has potential applications in business, aviation, and the military.

The researchers now are refining the system and testing it in STEM classes at an Indiana high school.

From Notre Dame News
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