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Input Devices

Video CES: Using Eye Movements to Control a Computer or TV (Video) 43

Imagine not being able to move a mouse or use a keyboard to control your computer. Frustrating, right? A company Timothy Lord found at CES named Eyetech has a solution for this problem: an eye tracker system that can control your computer or TV (or whatever) purely through eye movements. This isn't something you buy on a whim; the system costs $3000. That's a lot, but Eyetech claims they were the first ones to produce a high-accuracy eye tracker for less then $20,000. Obviously, this is a boon to profoundly disabled people. But Eyetech's Keith Jackson says, in the video, that they also have customers who use Eyetech instead of a mouse because of carpal tunnel syndrome, and that with voice recognition and on-screen keyboards -- and Eyetech, of course -- you can use your computer without (literally) lifting a finger.

Keith: My name is Keith Jackson with EyeTech Digital Systems. We are here at CES 2013 showing off our new eye-tracking technology for TV displays and also for PCs. It will enable consumers to control their whole display with just their eye movements. It uses a single camera and infra-red light technology that we’ve developed over the last sixteen years.

And so you just look where you want to select and you can either blink to click, use a deliberate blink; that way you can naturally blink and it won’t accidentally click on you. Or you just stare at where you want to select, it is called a dual click, and it works really well.

And it is available for consumers to buy. It works with Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 as well. It works with single or both eyes. The applications primarily are for helping people with disabilities, but we’ve had a lot more business professionals who are struggling with carpal tunnel, RSI, use the technology to replace their mouse. And it works right out of the box, with voice recognition technology like Dragon Naturally Speaking or the built-in for Windows as well.

The behind-the-scenes algorithm works really well across a wide variety of eyes, and the cursor movement technology we have is called a Smart Cursor algorithm. So for large movements, the cursor will respond really quickly and accurately, and for smaller movements where precision is needed, it will move a lot smoother and more naturally.

There are special onscreen keyboards for the disabled, or you can use the onscreen keyboard built in to Windows. It has border recognition and you can also preprogram pages in those special onscreen keyboard programs that our partners develop.

Come on over here. So you want to use it in Windows 8? Okay. So I am launching our program Quick Access, it is a software we designed. It works really well inside Windows 8, Windows 7 or XP. It uses a hot spot technology, so if I look off screen over the blue hot spot, it will pull up my menus, my right click, left click, double click and drag, zooms, and it will pull up our Avatar, Eyesaac we call him, and do a quick calibration.

So you can see a little bit behind the scenes how the technology works. It uses a dark pupil technique, and you can see those two white glints on the pupil is how our eye tracking camera is able to accurately track on the screen.

So I will do a quick calibration. I just follow the target. It will maintain calibration. Meaning I could go grab lunch, come back, and it will maintain eye control on my eyes. I don’t have to recalibrate every time I use the system. So right now, you are just comfortably at arm’s length, you can also track a little bit farther away with some of our other models. But the device actually just clips on to your display using a magnetic mounting capability. No tools are required.

And again you can order this online through our online retailer or directly through on our website,

Tim: What does it retail for?

Keith: It is $3000 and it comes with the hardware, the onscreen software program called Quick Access, and it also comes with a two-year hardware warranty and a 60-day money back guarantee. So I will go ahead and pull up Windows 8; say I want to check my stocks, I can check my stocks, or launch a video, just by blinking to select. I can easily scroll; scroll left and right, and it is a very quick natural way to compute hands-free.

So I will go ahead and blink, to go off. So I am going to open up some music. It is set for 1/3 of a second to click. So that way you can naturally blink your eyes, and not have to accidentally click on something. It is very natural. It does take some practice.

But actually our CEO of EyeTech, he developed the first Windows-based eyetracking mouse in 1996. And he has been using that technology as his mouse for 16 years. He is the longest active eye tracker on the planet. And he uses it in combination with voice recognition technology Dragon Naturally Speaking for completely hands-free computing and it has really saved his engineering career. He can still program, control his computer, and he is able to do things with his eyes that most of us can just do with our hands.

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CES: Using Eye Movements to Control a Computer or TV (Video)

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  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:17PM (#42969815)
    The Nouse [], from years ago. $150.

    I believe there was another version that used eyeblinks for mouse clicks.
    • by mog007 ( 677810 )


      In college I took a UI design course, and we talked about eye scan as a means of user input. It's nothing new. It's been used for UI design to determine where users will look on a screen.

    • Or the EyeBoard [], which you can build yourself. Even cooler, it was designed by a high school student in Honduras as a cheap assistive technology for people with physical disabilities.

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      Seems like all of these solutions are designed for people who don't wear eyeglasses.

      According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction. About 64% of them wear eyeglasses. Source []

  • Imagine not being able to move a mouse or use a keyboard to control your computer. Frustrating, right?

    I can still move the mouse easily. It's what's happening with my other hand that gets more frustrating the older I get.

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:25PM (#42969927) Journal

    It's 2013. I want to hear about brain controlled computers, not eye-tracking systems. We've had that for decades.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'nuff said.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean clearly, we have these extremities which can do fine manipulation work that are being WASTED on "controlling things with dexterity".

    Lets use our eyes to do the job, or better yet make it so we can hear using our feet or kick a ball with our nostrils.

    Honestly what are you hands so busy doing that you can't control the video you are watching with them...

    Oooooooooooooooh ok, nevermind.

  • Of course I will also send 'em a cookie that will tell me, what visitors to my website like to see and not just click. Ha ha me cookie can see.
  • by justaguylikeme ( 963377 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:55PM (#42970355)
    No more worrying about click throughs or whatever. Imagine your computer or TV just being able to report back to ad central which ads the users are looking at. THAT is the only impetus that would ever push this technology forward into common use in the future. It would, of course, be marketed as a convenience for the user or viewer, but it all comes back to the advertisers wanting to know exactly what the user is focusing on. Don't think for a minute that that information wouldn't be a gold mine to the right people, privacy be further damned!
  • Now I'll be able to set my window manager to use look-to-focus.
  • This tech would work great with the MacBook Wheel. I see you rolling your eyes there - exactly.
  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:28PM (#42970833)

    I have tried a similar system at Eyetech's competitor Tobii where eye-tracking was used instead of a mouse.

    While it was relatively precise and fast, it felt weird and constraining. Instead of the pointing device being an extension of myself, where I was controlling the pointer, the computer was controlling where I was going to look.
    I don't keep my gaze fixed on the mouse pointer all the time, just as I don't always keep both eyes on both hands all the time when I am doing various tasks.
    It felt also as if gaze-as-mouse could give me serious eye strain after prolonged use.

    I think that the model is fundamentally wrong. My eyes are part of my input device, not my output device (that is controlling the pointer when I am using a mouse).

    • by Puzzles ( 874941 )
      Perhaps the approach is not yet ironed out. Consider how we use multi-touch today, as opposed to mono-touch (think single mouse and cursor). I was seeing and was interested in multi-mouse / cursor interface projects WAY before the iPod / iPhone.

      There is no reason why this technology can't be used to enhance our already mouse / touch driven world. I actually see it having more application to be auxiliary to mouse input, largely because of the points you make.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      My wife has a Tobii with CEye. It takes a bit of getting used to, but since she can't speak or move her arms, it's a lifesaver when combined with Tobii's communicator suite.

  • In all seriousness, we have incredibly high resolution cameras available for years. I harbor a belief that the cost of these systems reflects a massive premium that we see attached to any 'medical' device, and that those who need them simply have to buy them, whatever the price. Add to this, the benefits we are all reaping from patents...

    It's wonderful what these systems do. It's just disheartening that millions are being deprived of the technology, not because they couldn't afford the hardware, but because

  • Why spend $3000 when a similar program that uses any webcam is available at the link below for free? []
    It's been around for a while. I remember trying it about 5 years ago. It might be useful in some areas.

  • "Magnetic mounting capability" that doesn't sound good to use close to your computer.

  • In Soviet Samsung, TV eye controls YOU! ;)

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.