You’ve blasted asteroids with your eyes, but are you ready to shoot virtual bad guys just by looking at them? That’s the promise of a new game controller in development from SteelSeries, powered by Tobii’s eye-tracking technology.
Tobii has been slowly upgrading and improving its eye-tracking technology for years, first creating a laptop with eye control, then showing what was possible with an arcade version of Eye Asteroids. Developers have been able to unlock the possibilities of eye control with the company’s Rex peripheral, and now the tech will finally be going commercial with the coming SteelSeries product.
Forget Kinect: Tobii Wants You to Control Games with Your Eyes
We caught a glimpse of what eye-tracking tech could bring to video games after playing with Tobii’s previous-gen Rex eye tracker at last year’s CES and during Computex in Taiwan. The peripheral would be designed to work in conjunction with other input controls rather than replacing them.
For example, in our demo we used our eyes to select areas on a map and zoomed in by clicking the mouse or pressing a key. We also looked at characters in a game to provoke a reaction when trying to solve a crime. Tobii says that other potential use cases include using your eyes to select which player you’d like to pass the ball to in games like FIFA, leaning forward to look around corners, and aiming your flashlight or weapon by looking around the screen.
he device will be available for PCs upon launch just like Tobii’s other eye tracking devices, but SteelSeries says it “doesn’t see limitations” for the platform when asked about whether or not it will eventually work with consoles.
These demos weren’t based on any specific games or apps, but were designed to demonstrate the type of functionality eye-tracking can offer for gaming. We look forward to bringing you our first impressions during CES, where Tobii will be showcasing the gaming peripheral and its EyeX controller for the first time.
The device doesn’t have a name yet, but it will be based on the Tobii EyeX, a new peripheral with the company’s latest and greatest eye-tracking tech. Developers will be able to get their hands on the EyeX in March, and they can preorder it now from Tobii’s website for $95.
What kind of games will benefit most from eye tracking? That’s up to the devs, but Tobii mentions a “more immersive” gaming experience for first-person shooters (think Call of Duty) specifically as well as strategy games.
In a shooter, a player could gaze at an object onscreen to aim a weapon, then push a button to fire.
In role-playing games, non-player characters could react to eye contact in different ways, with a shy person turning away or a more aggressive personality taking issue with being stared at.
And as Tobii points out in its announcement, gaze can also reveal intent. For example, looking at an onscreen receiver in a football game might suggest you’ll pass to him, and the other players (whether real or virtual) may react accordingly.
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