The mouse. What once seemed like a revolutionary way of navigating a computer is now outdated. Trackpads, touchscreen phones and tablets respond to a flick of our fingertips, and virtual assistants take our verbal commands.
But it looks like we're about to take computer responsiveness to a whole new level.
Tobii is new eyeball tracking software that can follow your eye movements to toggle between windows, scroll as you're reading, zoom in while looking at maps and more. All you have to do is a quick calbration at the beginning as the computer tracks your eyes while you watch a dot moving on the screen.
As might be expected, at the International Consumer Electronics Show a couple weeks ago, Tobii ("with two eyes") was generating some buzz. While the eye-tracking capabilities are nothing new, they have until now been available only at a high price and for specialized groups such as the military and the disabled.
But they will soon be available to consumers, as Tobii is putting its Gaze Interface software into Windows 8 computers.
[Tobii] works by shooting infrared lights into your eyes to cause red-eye (sounds dangerous, I know, but they assure me it's perfectly safe). By doing this, Tobii is able to create a 3D model of your eyeball and determine where your eye is relative to space. It then tracks the glint off of your eyeball to determine where your foveal vision, or sharp central vision, is, and, consequently, where you're looking.
Several writers who have interacted with the software remark on how easy and incredible it feels to have the computer respond to your eye movements -- whether that is because you can destroy asteroids in a video game just by looking at them, or because you can now read an entire article online without having to scroll with your hands; the computer will see where your eyeballs are focused and scroll down for you.
Sound pretty sweet? See what you think in this video of how it works:
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photo: Sam Bald/Flickr