Skip to main content

Tobii eye-tracking development kit makes for an eye-pleasing demonstration

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Intel ended this year’s keynote by talking about perceptual computing, a term for input that relies on motion and voice instead of a keyboard and mouse. It is not alone in its research, however. Tobii, a small company hailing from Sweden, is making strides with its eye-tracking system.

The idea is simple. Humans naturally move their eyes while interacting with a device, so why not harness that movement? Tobii does just that by using a pair of infrared sensors and an embedded processor to track a user’s eyes with surprising precision. Tobii has two units: the Tobii IS20 and the Tobii IS 30. The only difference between the two is the maximum display size in which they are compatible.

Tobii let its demos do the talking. After an extremely short calibration process we were able to scroll through text, zap asteroids, and select images using nothing but eye movement. The effect was at first disorienting. At first, we found our hands kept reaching for the mouse. After several minutes, however, we began to adapt and noticed our input becoming more accurate.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

We were even more impressed by the unofficial work Tobii has performed with StarCraft II. Most of the game’s interface was still controlled by a keyboard and mouse, but several important functions, such as navigating the mini-map and moving units, could be performed by looking at a portion of the display and hitting a pre-defined hotkey. Representatives of the company said they’ve also experimented with other games. Imagine, for example, leaning out of a window in-game by leaning in real life.

Tobii isn’t perfect just yet. There were a few issues. Precision control was problematic at times, and the calibration window seemed a bit small. Moving more than a foot in any direction after calibration often threw off the device and made control either non-functional or far less accurate.

Issues like this aren’t deal breakers because it’s only a development kit. Anyone who wants to buy a Tobii will have to spend at least $995 for the standard development package that includes both the hardware and the SDK. Pricing on the consumer version, which will be available for preorder this spring and ship in the fall, is not yet announced.

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is the former Lead Editor, Reviews at Digital Trends. He previously guided the Products Team, which dives…
5 laptops you should buy instead of the MacBook Pro
The side of the open Dell XPS 14 on a white table.

There's no laptop quite like the MacBook Pro right now. No alternatives on the Windows side can match the power, efficiency, and battery life in a laptop of this size -- and that's not even mentioning the Pro's premium features and design.

There are, however, a few laptops that come close, while undercutting it significantly in price. So, if you're looking for a proper Windows alternative to the more powerful configurations of the MacBook Pro, or even just a cheaper laptop that can replicate some of what the MacBook Pro can do, here are a few solid options to consider before shelling out the cash on a MacBook Pro.
HP Envy 16

Read more
What’s the best $300 CPU? I compared two of the best options
Intel Core i5-14600K processor inside its socket.

If you want a midrange processor in 2024, two of the best options available are AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X and Intel's Core i5-14600K. These $300-ish processors offer lots of cores for high performance computing and gaming, as well as 5GHz+ clock speeds. They aren't quite as powerful as the very top chips, but they are still blazingly fast, and have more modest power demands than their higher-end siblings.

But which is the best? If you're looking to buy or build a new PC in 2024, one of these chips might be the best CPU for you. Here's how they stack up.
Pricing and availability
The AMD Ryzen 7 7700X debuted in September 2022 with a launch price of $400. It's since come down in price significantly, and although list prices today are around $350, it's typically available at a discounted price of around $290.

Read more
This is the cheapest 17-inch laptop worth buying today
A woman video chats with her friends on an HP Envy laptop.

If you want your next laptop to come equipped with a larger screen compared to what its peers offer, then check out the HP Laptop 17z. The budget-friendly device is pretty affordable at its original price of $500, but it's even cheaper right now due to a $220 discount from HP that pulls its price down to $280. You're going to have to be quick with your purchase though, because like with most laptop deals, we don't expect the savings to stay up for a long time.

Why you should buy the HP Laptop 17z
The HP Laptop 17z with a 17.3-inch HD+ display is perfect if you want to build presentations, manage spreadsheets, browse websites, and watch streaming shows on one of the biggest screens that you can get on a laptop. Coupled with its relatively cheap price that's easy on the wallet, the HP Laptop 17z holds its spot in our roundup of the best 17-inch laptops as an affordable large-screen laptop.

Read more