Almost exactly a year ago, on January 5th of 2012, I wrote about Tobii and its innovative new eye tracking software that was being aimed at Windows 8 devices. After a year of virtual silence from the company, they are making news once more.
Last year, the focus from Tobii was its Gaze UI, which allowed navigation, zooming, selecting, scrolling and more just by using our pupils and a touchpad. Now, Tobii is introducing a USB-connected peripheral called REX that will bring these features to any and all Windows 8 devices.
This accessory is about the size of a large pen and adheres to the base of any PC/laptop monitor. Tobii hopes to have 5,000 units out to customers by the end of 2013, and there is also a special edition for developers out now for $995.
While this kind of eye-tracking technology is intriguing, I’m not sure how practical it is in reality. The fact is that some of use tend to just ‘stare’ or gaze at our screen when in deep thought. I know I do this when trying to figure out topics to cover for the various sites I work for.
During these “staring” sessions would REX and GAZE UI start freaking out and opening up things at random or can the software tell the difference?
If the software is truly sophisticated and has all the bugs worked out, it might be useful, but I see a close-range Kinect-like option as a more accurate solution— or just using a touch screen monitor.
It will all boil down to price. Eye-control for $995 is awfully high, but that’s a developer version. If the consumer version can cost under $150– maybe. If it is more, it might make more sense to just buy a new touchscreen monitor, or just stick to the keyboard and mouse.
What do you think, are you interested in Tobii eye-tracking technology or is it nothing more than a gimmick?