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Microsoft Adding Eye Control Capabilities to Windows, Improve Accessibility

People with disabilities typically find themselves in an uphill battle in a world that simply isn't geared for them. In everything, the economies of scale dominate, the cost/benefit ratios are weighed... And even though the disabled segment of the population is a significant one, measures to cope with their difficulties are seldom implemented due to that same economic cost/benefit ratio - though this has been steadily improving over the years (at great credit for humanity, I might say.)

Microsoft has now announced that it has partnered with Tobii (best known for their gaming-oriented eye-tracking products), in a bid to increase accessibility in its Windows OS. The work has gone towards implementing eye-tracking technology that can be used by people with motor disabilities to control a mice and keyboard on-screen. Available in the latest Insider Preview builds, Eye Control currently requires a specific piece of Tobii hardware (like the Tobii 4C, though support will definitely extend to other Tobii products in time), which unlocks access to the Windows operating system to be able to do the tasks one could previously accomplish with a physical mouse and keyboard.

Tobii and SteelSeries to Bring the First Mass-Market Eye-Tracking Peripheral

Tobii Technology, the global leader in eye tracking, and SteelSeries, a leading manufacturer of top-quality gaming gear, today announced a partnership to launch the world's first mass-market consumer eye-tracking device for gamers. At International CES 2014, Tobii and SteelSeries will be at Unveiled on Jan. 5 and in the LVCC South Hall 2, Booth #25333, Jan. 7-10 showcasing the richer, more immersive gaming experience that will be possible using eye tracking in a variety of games, for instance real-time strategy and first-person shooter games.

Game developers who want to lead the innovation and be part of the first wave of eye-tracking games can preorder the Tobii EyeX Developer Kit at a special price of $95 during the show.

Tobii Closes $21M Funding Round Led by Intel Capital

Tobii Technology, the global leader in eye tracking and gaze interaction, announced today that it has closed a USD $21M funding round. New investor Intel Capital joins existing investors Amadeus Capital, Investor Growth Capital and Northzone Ventures. The funding will be used to continue R&D investments in core technology and to take eye tracking and gaze interaction to mainstream computers and other mass-market applications.

The new funding from Intel Capital will help Tobii to further accelerate the technological evolution and to take the leap into mass-market applications, such as mainstream computers, cars, games and other consumer and professional products. More specifically it will help Tobii to do necessary R&D investments, grow their R&D organization and build new strategic competences.

Tobii and SeeFront Team Makes Accurate Glasses-free 3D a Reality

Tobii Technology, global leader in eye-tracking and gaze interaction, and SeeFront, leading developer of proprietary glasses-free 3D technology, have teamed up to develop a glasses-free 3D version of the world’s first eye- controlled arcade game, Tobii EyeAsteroids, which was originally introduced last fall at Dave & Buster’s in New York City. Tobii EyeAsteroids in 3D will be showcased at Tobii’s booth A29, Hall 26, at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, March 6-10.

“Eye tracking is an essential component of our glasses-free 3D display technology,” said Christoph Grossmann, founder and CEO of SeeFront, based in Hamburg. “Adding gaze control to natural 3D viewing combines two highly innovative technologies for a unique user experience. Aside from gaze-controlled 3D gaming – which is great fun – additional applications of this innovative dual technology include use in medical, geographical and automotive devices.”

Laptop Prototype Uses Eye and Keyboard Combi Control For Fast Input With Windows 8

c|net has tried out a laptop prototype from Tobii at the Consumer Electronics Show, that can be controlled with the eyes – and it works. The reporter, Rafe Needleman, was initially sceptical, as the eyes are only designed for input not output, but it turned out to be very fast and intuitive for him. It works by having the user press the Windows key, look at a tile and then release the key to activate the tile. The use of the keypress prevents one's eyes, which tend to dart around in normal use, from scrambling input to the laptop. As the user's gaze darts over the screen, the system gives an indication as to which tile is currently selected by the user's gaze to ensure accurate tile selection by the user.

To achieve this feat, the modified laptop uses two infra red emitters and two special IR cameras along the Windows 8 customer preview released a while back. They use "the reflective point of the retina, plus the glint off the cornea" Rafe was told. From this, the computer builds a 3D model of the user's gaze to work out where they are looking on the screen. Rafe concluded, "I did not expect to like it, but I did. It is intuitive to use, and very fast. Tobii has done a good job of making your glances into workable input signals."
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