Eye controlled gaming has been on the horizon for quite some time now. However, “on the horizon” generally means that it’s only going to happen in the distant future.
That distant future just got a lot closer.
Eye tracking technology is currently being tested and optimized by manufacturers around the world. A Swedish company named Tobii has recently commercialized all sorts of eye tracking peripherals over the last few years and has signed deals with Hyundai and SteelSeries.
Hyundai, as you know, is a car manufacturer. Hyundai used eye tracking technology in its HCD-14 concept car, where eye tracking technology was used:
“…so that the HCD-14 is able to recognize driver commands free from the distractions associated with manual controls. The result is an intuitive, windshield heads-up display (HUD) that offers minimal driving distraction and sets a new benchmark for active driver safety technology.”
But the thing about concept cars is that, no matter how cool they are, you’re probably never going to drive one. That’s why I’m more excited about the SteelSeries eye tracking peripheral, which will resemble the Wii U’s sensor bar and will set below your desktop monitor.
That sensor bar will be based on Tobii’s EyeX and will track eye movement using infrared light. Infrared light reflects off your pupil and cornea and is then captured by sensors within the bar. This results in accurate eye tracking movement up to one centimeter.
The eye tracking technology will also come with head tracking and gesture recognition, which means you might never have to place a hand on your old keyboard and mouse again.
The Tobii EyeX developers kit is being released in March 2014 for a cost of $195 ($95 with a CES2014 promo code). SteelSeries is expected to launch its own version of the Tobii EyeX in the middle of 2014.
SteelSeries is encouraging developers to start adding eye tracking technology to their games in order to create a truly special gaming experience.
Is this the future of gaming?
The PC mouse and keyboard combo seems natural to PC gamers. But when you think about it, it’s not a very natural way to control anything. Our fingers are so accustomed to pressing buttons in the right combinations that we tend to forget there are more intuitive ways to control things.
Being able to control things using our eyes and gestures would undoubtedly be awkward at first. But with the right eye tracking tech and a bit of practice, I bet it would become extremely intuitive.
Think of playing a racing game and glancing over your shoulder to shoulder check, for example, or moving your eyes left and right to check your mirrors. If that’s the future of gaming, then that sounds like a very awesome future indeed.