World's First Mass-Market Eye Tracking Video Game Controller
January 4, 2014

Tobii, SteelSeries To Co-Develop Eye-Tracking Video Game Controller

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Gaming accessory manufacturer SteelSeries and eye-tracking specialist Tobii Technology are teaming up to develop a device that will allow video game players to control the on-screen action with their gaze.

Stockholm-based Tobii, which has been working on its eye-tracking technology for more than a decade, announced their partnership with the Danish gaming accessories manufacturer on Friday. The companies said that the device will be “the world's first mass-market consumer eye-tracking device for gamers,” reports Engadget’s Matt Brian.

“Tobii’s technology promises precision control. It uses a camera-like device to detect your eyeball in three dimensions and then determines precisely where you are looking on a screen,” explained Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat.

Previously, Tobii developed commercial technology that serve as control systems for people with disabilities, Takahashi said. In addition, the company has developed a unit known as the EyeX controller, which allows clinical researchers to track the eye movements of subjects during their studies.

However, this will be Tobii’s first mass-market device, and the firm hopes to “to provide a new dimension of interaction for gamers, with richer and more immersive games,” he added. “If successful, they could open a huge new market supplying devices that replace the traditional game controller that has been around for decades."

According to Mikael Ricknäs of IDG News Service, Tobii and SteelSeries are expected to announce additional details about their partnership and the project they are developing over the coming months. In the meantime, however, the EyeX controller will be demonstrated during next week’s International CES consumer technology show.

The two companies already have “several ideas” about how gamers will be able to use their eyes to control the on-screen action, Ricknäs said. Players could use the technology for easier access to menus. In combat or survival horror games, gamers could aim a weapon or flashlight simply by looking at a specific target, then using traditional controls to attack. In sports games, a player could pass a football or basketball just by looking at a receiver.

“As the leader in eye-tracking technology, Tobii is positioned not only to impact but also to change the way that gamers experience and play games,” SteelSeries CEO Bruce Hawver told Takahashi. “Eye-tracking is something entirely different and exciting for this consumer market, and we are thrilled to be working alongside Tobii and the developer community to deliver an entirely new technology to this industry.”

A development kit will be available at the regular price of $195, but developers in attendance at CES can order a discounted kit for $95. The kit will include hardware, middleware and a development framework, and it will begin shipping in March. The companies expect to launch a consumer version this summer.