CES 2012: Tobii technology enables your eyes to control computers


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When the iPad came out, the mouse -- long the king of all pointing devices -- was dethroned by the power of the tablet’s touchscreen.

But if looks could kill, then the touchscreen may be the next victim in the pointer war.

Tobii Technology’s ‘gaze interaction’ system enables users to control their computer screens with their eyes, scrolling through Web pages and photo slide shows with mere glances, blowing up asteroids by staring at them and giving new meaning to the idea of looking something up.


The technology from the Swedish company is a descendant of a 2001 research project at Stockholm University, first conducted by Tobii’s founders. But gaze interaction may soon be going mainstream.

In a display booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed Tobii software hooked up to Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Booth-goers could sit in front of a screen and optically swipe through Windows screens, ‘thumb’ through photographs, or go into a Word document and ‘click’ on even the tiniest buttons (think the ‘B’ button for bold) using just their peepers.

On another computer, a man played a game of the arcade classic Asteroids. But instead of rotating his gun turrets with a joystick or the keyboard, he simply looked at the asteroid he wanted to destroy, and a split second later it exploded into smithereens. It was a feat worthy of Superman and his laser-heat vision. In a manner of speaking.

Tobii says it wants to expand beyond consumer applications and use the eye-tracking technology for medical purposes, such as allowing technicians to use their eyes to move through photographs, scans or X-rays, potentially while using their hands to operate medical machinery, make notes or physically examine a patient.

When it comes to the way we interact with our computers, the Tobii software is definitely a peek into the future.



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-- David Sarno