Sentry, the first consumer eye-tracking system designed with gamers in mind, is making an appearance at CES 2014. It’s the product of a collaboration between Swedish eye-tracking pioneer Tobii Technology and gaming peripheral maker SteelSeries, and the reveal will include a suite of applications that Tobii has developed to utilize the technology. The system was unveiled at E3 2014 and is set to start shipping in January. CES attendees can try it out for themselves at Tobii’s booth in the Las Vegas show on January 6-9.
SteelSeries’ site for the Sentry puts particular emphasis on its utility for eSports. As anyone who follows high-level competition in games like Starcraft and League of Legends can tell you, one of the big factors that distinguishes the upper echelon of players from the rest of us is their absurdly high rate of actions per minute (APM). Top Starcraft 2 players, for instance, can operate at as many as ten clicks per second. At blazing speeds like that, every stray glance down at the game’s map can impact the flow of play.
The Tobii Arcade suite of apps for the Sentry that will also be at CES includes a Game Analyzer, which can be used to take a fine-grained look at what your eyes were doing while playing. It tracks data like how many times per minute the player glanced at particular parts of the screen, generating a heat map. If the technology catches on in the competitive scene, it could provide a whole new data set to analyze in determining what separates the top players.
Tobii’s app suite also includes EyeX Interactions, a Windows add-on that enables eye-tracking as a form of input for actually controlling the action on the screen. Imagine being able to fire off a perfect headshot by simply glancing at a hapless opponent across the map. By removing intermediary controls, eye-tracking has the potential to add a new sense of immediacy to gaming. The Tobii Arcade also includes the system-compatible action fantasy game Son of Nor from Stillalive Studios to demonstrate the Sentry’s potential as an input device.
The Swedish company behind Sentry has been an active proponent of eye-tracking for years. It debuted an eye-control interface for Windows 8 at CES 2012 and came by the Digital Trends office in 2013 to show us a hands-free tablet.
More recently, Tobii teamed up with Pizza Hut to develop an experimental menu interface that deduces what kind of pizza you want simply by where you are looking. The Pizza Hut Subconscious Menu will also be available at CES so you can witness the eerie future of ads that look back at you.