Science and Tech
PC Gamer Tech - The 5 Coolest from CES 2016

CJ Miozzi | 27 Jan 2016 01:30
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2. Selecting Things On-Screen with Your EYES

You're at your PC. Your left hand is working the keyboard; your right sits on the mouse. Be it in a game or simply regular use of your operating system, your hands cooperate fluidly in a practiced workflow. But how can we make that workflow even more efficient? Short of some form of robotic arm attachments a la Doctor Octopus - which would be awesome - there isn't much more room for mechanical input. And that's where Tobii eye tracking comes in.

I tried an Assassin's Creed demo using a Tobii eye tracking device built into an MSI laptop, and after some quick and simple calibration, found myself zip-lining from rooftop to rooftop more efficiently than I ever could using a controller. Rather than have to use a thumbstick to slowly rotate to select a spot to zip to, I simply looked where I wanted to go, and the area was instantly selected. While I didn't get to experience it, selecting among various enemies would work the same way, avoiding the clumsy mechanic of cycling through targets and instead pinpointing without delay the target you have in mind. Similarly, outside of game, when ALT+tabbing between open windows, rather than have to cycle through each, you can just look at the thumbnail of the window you want to open and it is automatically selected.

I must admit that I was skeptical of the eye tracking technology, thinking that it would simply allow you to move the cursor with your eyes and knowing that the tech couldn't be advanced enough to be more precise than fine hand motions. And while that is a function you can enable, the more innovative use of the tech lies in functions specifically designed to make use of the eye-tracking, as I outlined above. When used properly, it is an elegant system that can increase the efficiency of your workflow or increase your actions-per-minute in a game by giving you a third "hand." The uses I experienced were beyond intuitive, since your gaze naturally falls to the things you want to select anyhow, and I can easily see eye tracking eventually becoming a standard part of a PC setup, alongside the keyboard and mouse.

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