Tobii Technologies Sets Sight On Gaming

Tobii Technologies this week unveiled a new level of interactivity between user and computer that could possibly revolutionize how we play games; by using your eyes.  We here at Wanderson75 were skeptical that such a technology could be at all accurate —  that is, until we saw it with our own eyes.

We arrived yesterday bright and early at 9 AM to Tobii Technologies’ booth and were greeted by their smiling employees.  Having told them the rumors we heard of outlandish claims that we could play a video game just by moving our eyes, we were whisked away towards a classic arcade style cabinet.  Contained within was an innocent looking rendition of the classic Asteroids.  However, as I walked up, a pair of eyes flashed across the screen and a prompt popped up to push a button to allow the game to calibrate itself.  A circle appeared in the corner, and as I looked at it, it disappeared and another appeared  in the opposite corner.  The process repeated itself for the remaining two corners and finally the center of the screen.  They popped up and disappeared as I looked at them without touching a thing.  Surely this was a trick!

What happened next would absolutely blow my mind; a planet (your home base) appeared in the middle of the screen.  An asteroid began tracking across the black void, I looked over at it and immediately a laser shot out from my planet and obliterated the celestial object of doom.  More asteroid filled the screen, incoming faster towards my planet, but were immediately disintegrated as I looked at them.  Five objects came onto the screen, ten, fifteen.  No matter what was being thrown at me, I was able to instantly destroy anything that came along as soon as my eyes perceived it.  Finally, the number of objects exceeded what I could reasonably track with my eyes; but then again, I had never been able to play such an effective game of Asteroids in my life using my bare hands.  Awe wasn’t the word to describe my state of mind when all was said and done.

Tobii Technologies leverages infrared light, much like Microsoft’s Kinect device, to track the movements of the human eye by measuring how the light bounces off of your optical sensors.  As your eye moves, the light refracts differently, allowing the sensor to determine the position of your eye with a high degree of accuracy.  The response rate is almost instantaneous, taking less than 50 milliseconds to react (or .05 seconds for those who aren’t so sharp on math).  This allows the technology to be exceptionally well suited for gaming applications.  Imagine being able to mark targets for your teammates in a death-match just by looking at them, or sending AI squad members to a location by staring at it.  Or perhaps imagine a gamer with a limited range of mobility (or none at all), being able to play games just by moving their eyes.  In my 30 minute meeting with Tobii’s staff, dozens of possibilities crossed my mind.  Our hosts were like-minded as well, as they seemed to be largely focused on gaming.

There are many other potential uses of the technology in other areas of life as well.  I was taken to a workstation where I was shown how to manipulate pictures on the screen by using my eyes in conjunction with keyboard commands by selecting them, opening them, zooming in and out and more.  They even had a Windows 8 laptop there that allowed you to use your eyes in lieu of a touchpad to manipulate the tiles and a browser.

Tobii Technologies is currently working to create a smaller form factor device that could plug into a laptop or PC for use in the consumer markets as well as building a limited run of their Eye Asteroids arcade cabinets to distribute throughout the States.  Tobii Technology has created something that could corner the market on immersive gaming.  I for one can honestly now say that “seeing is believing”.

About This Post