By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated March 06, 2012.
If waving your hands or speaking your commands aren't next generational enough for you, get ready. A new, less expensive eye tracking technology could make cursors move and applications obey, based on where you look.
Sweden-based Tobii Technology announced Tuesday a new version of its eye-tracking OEM component, called the IS-2 Eye Tracker. The company, which made the announcement at the CeBIT show taking place in Hanover, Germany, called the new component "the smallest and most reliable eye-tracking system on the market."
Tobii added that it is working with "dozens of partners" to create a "wide range of products and applications."
75 Percent Smaller
Tobii CTO John Elvesjo said in a statement that the new eye-tracker "allows for accurate eye tracking of almost everyone within varying environments," which is one of the key challenges for widespread use.
The company said the new version can track virtually anyone's eyes and gazes in various environments, regardless of ambient light, eyewear or contact lenses, eye color, occluding eyelids, and other factors.
In addition, the new component is smaller and cheaper than the company's previous model. Its size has been reduced by 75 percent and its power consumption dropped by 40 percent.
The OEM component has dual sensors, illuminators, and embedded processing integrated on a single board and features system-independent processing, giving it a small footprint and the ability to integrate with a range of products.
Two infrared projectors are used to illuminate a person's pupils, and then two small cameras register the positions of the pupils as they move. The resulting information is processed to determine eye position, pupil size and gaze position, which is then used to control the software or screen interaction in the ways the developer has determined.
New Kind of Eye-Hand Coordination
Users of the system report that, after a short while, the interaction becomes as seamless and un-self-conscious as mouse or touch interaction. Eye-hand coordination can literally become an interface mode, with a gaze by the eyes creating a different command from eye movement. For instance, a gaze slightly beyond the screen on either side could call up a menu, and documents could be opened as a result of looking at them.
An initial calibration is required, where the user follows a yellow dot for ten seconds across the screen.
The company envisions the eye-tracking device being used in a range of devices, such as high-end computer monitors or peripherals, arcade games and slot machines, and infotainment systems in public places. Last year, Tobii demonstrated a Lenovo laptop that used its eye-tracking technology, and the company has estimated that the technology could start showing up in laptops within a year or two.
Applications could include computer-aided design, medical imaging and diagnostics, air traffic control, baggage scanning, attention monitoring, rehabilitation, training and even lie detection.
Tobii has also started to combine its eye-tracking technology with other leading-edge features. On Tuesday, for instance, it announced that, working with SeeFront, it has developed a glasses-free 3D version of the world's first eye-controlled arcade game, called EyeAsteroids.