We checked out Tobii last year, and it was pretty rough around the edges — just a prototype. But now the eye-control tech wizards at Tobii are back with a polished product, and I feel like I’m in Star Trek.
It’s still not perfect, but once Tobii’s new USB eye-scanning peripheral calibrated itself with my peepers, I was able to select whatever I looked at onscreen just by pressing the delete key. It made navigating Windows 8′s interface rainbow faster than touch — just look at what you want to open, select, read, whatever — your retinas will always be faster than your fingers. It made it genuinely fun. It made it sci-fi.
But zooming through a map is the absolute best: no matter where you look, the Tobii will navigate on the fly. Starting from a view of North America in its entirety, I was able to sweep down through the east coast, zooming straight down to Gizmodo HQ as I got my visual bearings. Not only is Tobii accurate, it’s fast — we were told the sensor, which mixed traditional imaging with near-field infrared scanning. This was crucial for something like maps, where a split-second change in what you’re looking at matters.
Tobii is already partnering with companies like Lenovo to bake this tech directly into laptops and tablets. For now, developers (and soon, us consumers) will be able to buy the USB stick to use on our existing rigs.
The sooner the better. There’s nothing that feels like this, and even though it requires some keyboard taps to trigger, an interface that uses only your vision feels like something nearer to telepathy than anything I’ve encountered with tech before. Something has to make the keyboard and mouse combo obsolete, and a mix of eye-tracking and voice-recognition might just do it.