Hands-free is probably the future of computer interaction. Gesture control is already moving toward this future and now we can add eye-tracking to the roster. Just like many other technologies we cover here at Engineering on the Edge, eye-tracking tech has long been a staple of science fiction. What could be easier than pointing your peepers at part of a screen?
Tobii has developed functional eye-tracking hardware and software compatible for Windows 8 with its Tobii REX interface. The hardware takes the form of a slim sensor that looks similar to a Kinect. Calibrating the Gaze software requires following a moving dot around the screen with your eyes, and you’re ready. Users can move around the screen and select specific areas just by using their eyes.
The process isn’t completely hands-free just yet, though. Currently users need to use three keys to perform clicks, scrolling and zoom. If that sounds like three keys too many for you, making you wonder why you wouldn’t just continue to use a mouse, the story isn’t quite over yet. Other companies are building on the technology to combine eye-tracking and gesture control. This combination should allow actual hands-free control with all the functionality you’d expect.
Potential applications for the interface are diverse. Any field that requires individuals to be hands-on with their work could benefit from having access to a computer that didn’t require touch to use. Currently, the Tobii REX is only available for developers at $1000 a unit, but the company intends to release a commercial version later this year.
Below you’ll find a short video that demonstrates the Tobii REX.