Lenovo and Tobii Technology have unveiled a laptop prototype that can be controlled by the user's eye movements. In addition to the familiar keyboard and touchpad input hardware, Lenovo's prototype packs Tobii's eye-tracking technology that lets users point, select or scroll with only their eyes. People with disabilities already use the technology, but it has yet to enter the mainstream because of technological and financial constraints.
However, according to Barbara Barclay, Tobii's North American general manager, the company's hardware is almost ready for primetime. "For the first time, the technology is nearly small enough and cheap enough for inclusion in every laptop," Barclay said. "More than anything else, the Tobii laptop prototype is proof that our eye-tracking technology is mature enough to be used in standard computer interfaces," said Tobii CEO Henrik Eskilsson.
The technology isn't perfect yet, but Barclay believes that most laptop makers in the next two years will offer an optional eye-tracking add-on for a few hundred bucks. In the meantime, Lenovo has built 20 units to test and refine the eye-tracking function. As it stands, systems outfitted with the eye sensor are roughly twice as thick as a standard notebook. Engadget has posted an impressive video demo of the prototype at CeBIT (embedded above).