W3C re-introduces popular BLINK feature

Author(s) and publish date


New feature gives back full editing control to web authors while ensuring inclusive user experience for all

2021-04-02: This fake press release was published as a joke at the occasion of April Fools' Day. Please, enjoy --with sound ON.

https://www.w3.org/ — 1 April 2021 — W3C today re-introduced the popular BLINK feature as part of the open web platform. There was much critique in the community about the removal of the prior version of BLINK, which W3C now has addressed using state-of-the-art technology. Web authors can be sure to get the readers’ attention that their important information deserves, and web users can be sure never to miss important information again. The new and improved BLINK employs multimodal interaction to ensure an inclusive user experience for all.

Inclusive and accessible

The new BLINK feature is built on the W3C Personalization Semantics so users can customize it according to their particular accessibility needs and preferences. For example, users can change the color, rate, and brightness of the blink. Users can also replace the blinking with different types of animations such as swiveling, pulsating, and waving. This is not only critical for people with disabilities but also for cultural considerations around the world. People prefer different types of blinking depending on their cultural and societal background.

Multimodal interaction

A significant drawback of the prior version of BLINK was that it was only visual. When readers weren't looking on the screen or when the text was scrolled away from the viewport, the blinking content was not communicated. This was also an accessibility issue for people who can’t see the screen. The new BLINK feature is now also communicated via audio and vibration alerts to ensure no one is left behind. With the BLINK feature, authors can ensure that important information is communicated to the reader, whatever they are currently doing, whether they like it or not.

Empowering authors

Web pages are increasingly more complex and full of content. For years web authors have been struggling to highlight particularly important information in a way that busy readers cannot miss. "Blinking is a natural form of drawing attention. Many things in real life blink, and for a reason, for example quasars, traffic lights, eyelids and much more," said Bert Bos, co-inventor of CSS and Blink DTD expert.

Eye-gaze analysis and AI algorithms

The new implementation of BLINK addresses other shortcomings of the previous endeavor; for example, readers can miss blinking content when it coincides with the blinking of their own eyelids. Recent research identified that the most effective rate of blinking is approximately 500 milliseconds after the eye completes a blinking cycle, when the brain is ready to absorb new information from the surrounding environment. The new BLINK feature uses the camera built into most current devices to optimize the blinking rate, based on the individual’s eye-blink rate. AI algorithms adapt the blinking behavior to the natural eye-blink habits of the particular web user.

Example of BLINK

The example below demonstrates some of the features. It uses eye-gaze tracking to adapt itself to the blinking rate of the reader. The multimodal mode is also enabled.

Click on ‘blink example’ below to try it.

Blink example

The last year has been hard enough, so have some of that 90s flair, have a little BLINK as a treat.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its full potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the globe. W3C well-known standards HTML and CSS are the foundational technologies upon which websites are built. W3C works on ensuring that all foundational Web technologies meet the needs of civil society, in areas such as accessibility, internationalization, security, and privacy. W3C also provides the standards that undergird the infrastructure for modern businesses leveraging the Web, in areas such as entertainment, communications, digital publishing, and financial services. That work is created in the open, provided for free and under the groundbreaking W3C Patent Policy.

W3C's vision for "One Web" brings together thousands of dedicated technologists representing more than 400 Member organizations and dozens of industry sectors. W3C is jointly hosted by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. For more information see https://www.w3.org/.

End Press Release

Media contact

Coralie Mercier, Head of W3C Marketing & Communications <w3t-pr@w3.org>

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