World’s first eyeball-controlled laptop debuts at CeBIT

2 Mar 2011

Swedish technology company Tobii has demonstrated a Lenovo laptop running technology that allows users to control the entire laptop with movements of their eyes.

At the annual CeBIT event in Hanover, the Stockholm-headquartered Tobii demonstrated a prototype eye-control system that moves a computer’s cursor to where the viewer is looking.

The system works by shining infrared lights at the user and tracking reflections from eyeballs on a set of twin cameras which predict where they eye is looking.

How eye-controlled PCs work

The lights and camera sit inside an inch-wide strip at the bottom of the laptop screen.

According to Tobii, it is as if the computer understands you; just glance at an icon and more information will be presented. You can zoom pictures or maps and automatically centre on the area you are looking at. The computer can auto-dim and brighten the screen when it recognises your eyes to increase battery time.

Eye control can also speed things up by enabling new and intuitive ways to switch between open windows, and browse your emails and documents.

“We anticipate that people will be extremely excited to be able to control their computer with their eyes,” said Barbara Barclay, general manager of Tobii North America.

“But what we find most exciting are the opportunities that eye control as part of natural user interfaces offer consumer electronics manufacturers in a range of product categories. We look forward to working with our partners to find many exciting ways to share and integrate this technology to advance their work.”

The idea of eye tracking came from a research project at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Tobii was founded in 2001.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years