Microsoft and Tobii team up to add Eye Control to Windows 10

When it works correctly, Tobii's eye-tracking technology seems like something straight out of a near-future science fiction movie. So far, the company's EyeX peripherals have mostly been put to use translating eye movements into input for games and VR applications. The company has now teamed with Microsoft to add native support for eye-tracking devices to Windows 10. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced at the company's most recent hackathon that an eye-tracking technology called Eye Control will be integrated into the operating system, in order to make PCs more accessible to people unable to use a mouse and keyboard.

 Eye Control allows users to control the mouse pointer and an on-screen keyboard through eye movement. The keyboard works similarly to a gesture keyboard on a smartphone: a long pause on a letter marks the beginning of a word, and shorter pauses equate to additional letters. Tobii's 4C is the only compatible device for the time being, but additional models will be added in the future.

The seeds for the collaboration between Microsoft and Tobii were planted in 2014 when former NFL safety and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig's Disease) sufferer Steve Gleason challenged employees at Microsoft's first hackathon to use technology to aid with day-to-day challenges presented by his disease. The first result was an application that allowed Gleason to control his motorized wheelchair using an eye-tracking device in conjunction with a Microsoft Surface tablet.

Eye Control is currently being tested through Microsoft's publicly-available Windows Insider Program. Tobii's 4C eye-tracking peripheral is available now for $150. We haven't been blown away by Tobii's products in past reviews, but given the debilitating effects of ALS and similar diseases, any method of communication is likely welcomed by sufferers of the disease.

Comments closed
    • USAFTW
    • 2 years ago

    Tobii?
    [url<]https://giphy.com/gifs/toby-GmpEa2gvEM4V2[/url<]

    • CuttinHobo
    • 2 years ago

    Whilst applying topical cream under my tutu I noticed the topic of this article has two “to”.

    • UberGerbil
    • 2 years ago

    I remember the first time I used a Canon SLR that had eye-tracking to set the focus point. It was creepy as heck because I didn’t know about the feature and it took me a second to notice it was following my gaze.

    Funnily enough, I happened to be using a Windows 10 tablet earlier today and something wonky happened with the selection in a table where it moved down a row by itself, just as I happened to be looking at the next row — and I suddenly realized how simultaneously useful, annoying, and creepy that kind of eye-tracking would be.

      • psuedonymous
      • 2 years ago

      Yep. There are two tricky problems for gaze-based interfaces:
      – Sufficiently performance eye-tracking to distinguish focussing on an object from the normal saccades occurring when viewing a scene.
      – Discriminating intent from focussing on an object

      Problem 1 is getting close. Commodity camera-based systems are not there yet, but systems fast enough do exist for speciality work. Problem 2 is much harder to solve. Current systems rely on either an external trigger (“Look at the thing and press the button”), or on deliberate conscious dell time. Dwell-time is not only slow and awkward, but is surprisingly difficult to force consciously in anything other than a controlled environment: great with white boxes on a blank screen, no good when there are a bunch of moving background objects you subconscious is repeatedly slewing your eyeballs to on reflex to make sure one of them isn’t trying to kill you.

    • meerkt
    • 2 years ago

    More use for finger tracking could be nice as well.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t know — from what I’ve seen here, for many techie types Windows 10 only needs to interpret one finger gesture.

        • meerkt
        • 2 years ago

        On Win10 or others.

        And actually, Win10 is showing disappointingly high uptake rates even in these circles.

      • psuedonymous
      • 2 years ago

      Didn’t Windows 10 get Kinect 2 support folded in for gesture control?

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 2 years ago

    As soon as I saw the news that Microsoft was working on this I immediately remembered this: [url<]https://techreport.com/review/29896/tobii-eyex-eye-tracking-controller-reviewed/3[/url<] Any chance for a review pt.2?

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      I’d play around with a new version if we got sent one, but I probably wouldn’t do a full review if it still hated my face. :-/

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