Tobii shows off eye-controlled computing at CES

By on January 9, 2012, 11:30 AM

Last year, Tobii first showed off an eye-tracking control system on a Lenovo notebook that allowed users to point, select or scroll with only their eyes. It was a prototype then and even today it's not quite ready for consumers due to high costs associated with the technology -- the whole setup costs around $6,000 and is too bulky to embed in today's skinny laptops. But the company working to overcome those hurdles.

The Swedish firm has garnered quite a bit of attention from media outlets and attendees at this year's CES as they demonstrate two implementations of their "gaze interface". The first is an adaptation of the arcade classic Asteroids, which does away with the joystick or keyboard controlled turret and instead allows users to destroy asteroids simply by looking at them -- with impressive accuracy. The second demo allowed users to optically swipe through Windows 8 Metro screens, launch applications, and "click" on even the tiniest buttons.

The technology uses a sensor that sits below the monitor and tracks eye movements, translating them into actions on the screen. Instead of moving the cursor with a mouse or touchpad to click a link or app on the screen, looking it makes the cursor appear there immediately. In its current implementation it still requires some physical interaction with the computer, though. To launch an app from Metro, for example, you press down the Windows key, look at the tile for the app you want, and then release the key.

Looking at a bunch of demo videos, Tobii's eye-tracking technology seems to work really accurately and fast. The technology might still take a couple (or more) years to reach mainstream consumer products, but it is already being tested by market research firms to monitor consumer behavior and by users with disabilities.




User Comments: 10

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Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Combine this with an input device like the kinect and you could revolutionize the gaming industry...I'm sure there's many more practical uses for it but gaming seems the most exciting application.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Skynet a step closer! :P This is a great advancement, hopefully someone donates to this project and refines it even more!

Twixtea said:

Just thinking that I have to move my eyes the whole time and concentrate on the game or such gives me brainache.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I think a lot of it would be natural such as looking at a target to shoot, navigating menus by looking at each tab or in the case of an rts you could look at unit to bring up stats or movement options. All things we already look at while playing but the gameplay would be more fluid without a controller.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Twixtea said:

Just thinking that I have to move my eyes the whole time and concentrate on the game or such gives me brainache.

You move your eyes in games anyway, unless you tunnel vision.

Taharial said:

Until you eat spicy food and accidentally rub your eye. Then you reboot your computer as you blink furiously for relief.

Seriously though I'm with you guys. The prospect of refining this technology, especially for gaming, is extremely exciting.

I wonder how many people will get headaches from constant purposeful eye movement?

shamus087 said:

Ranger12 said:

Combine this with an input device like the kinect and you could revolutionize the gaming industry...I'm sure there's many more practical uses for it but gaming seems the most exciting application.

Dude, I was thinking the same thing. Imagine playing MW3 or BF3 with it! Head shot, head shot, head shot. It would truly make reaction time important.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I'm more worried about people not blinking enough. The eyes dry out fairly quickly if you don't and it can be bad for your eyes. People will need to be told that it's okay to blink while uses these types of applications.

Guest said:

What happens if you have a lazy eye?

Guest said:

It is ok to blink! And Tobii is not a research project of any kind, but a full blown company already present in many different industries, Market Research, Usability, Scientific Research and Assistive Technology among others. Check out www.tobii.com

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