Tobii has been working on eye-tracking technology for years now, though it's only recently that the company has started to receive a lot of attention. Why? Because now the technology is at such a level that it almost feels like magic. We got to spend a few minutes running through Tobii's demos (and just using it on a basic Windows 8 installation) and walked away from the booth frankly gobsmacked.
The company works to integrate eye- and gaze-tracking tech in a number of products. Perhaps most obvious are those products geared toward people with disabilities and/or reduced mobility. Being able to look around a webpage or application and move, scroll, and interact, just using your eyes, can be a real lifesaver for those individuals unable to properly use a keyboard and mouse - or unable, at least, to use one for very long.
Of course, there are a lot less noble applications for using good eye-tracking technology. For one, it can make a computer easier, and more fun to use. Lots of people like to complain about Windows 8's new Start screen, especially on computers without a touchscreen. Tobii's tech makes those concerns a thing of the past, as their gaze-tracking hardware can turn any screen into a touch-adjacent display - all you need is your eyes and a single button.
In one of the coolest demos we tried, you play as the Earth, and you need to defend against an endless barrage of rogue asteroids. Tobii's technology tracks your gaze and when you focus on an asteroid, a laser shoots out from the planet and starts to destroy the rock. Despite the simplistic mechanic, the game was a lot of fun - due almost wholly to the fact that it all worked so well. The second you captured an asteroid with your gaze, the laser shot out to pulverize it. Before long, you're flicking back and forth and back and forth.
Overall, Tobii's technology and demonstrations are one of the most impressive items we saw at CES. For now, the developer kits are selling for $995, but Tobii includes a lot of extra items and tech that consumers buyers wouldn't need. By the time this fits into your laptop or on the bottom of your screen, it won't cost much extra at all.
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