Ready, Stare, Fire! Tobii and SteelSeries Plan Eye Tracking for Games

This could be incredible. Or ruin everything.

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Imagine a first-person shooter where aiming at enemies is as simple as focusing on them with your eyes.

It could happen with the first eye controller for PC gaming, from SteelSeries and eye-tracking firm Tobii. The two companies plan to release the device later this year.

I wrote about the gaming possibilities of eye controls after interviewing Carl Korobkin, Tobii’s vice president of OEM solutions, last September.

He described a scenario where a Starcraft 2 player could open the game’s mini-map and quickly move between areas without dragging the mouse cursor.

“If you play Starcraft at all, it’s a lot of twitch factor,” Korobkin said. “So you’re navigating through the landscape with just machine-gun, rapid-fire decisions.”

Eye tracking could also enable new kinds of games. As an example, Korobkin talked about a detective-type game where you’re investigating a crime, and people at the scene will react differently based on how you make eye contact.

As for auto-aiming your way through a shooter, it’ll be up to game developers to actually support eye tracking (though it should work out of the box for system-level things like cursor movement). We can only hope that developers treat these controls with caution, and avoid creating an unfair advantage for certain users. Still, being able to blast a bad guy with laser vision could be great for, say, a Superman simulator.

Tobii’s tech has more practical applications as well. It could be faster than moving a mouse cursor around, and could allow for hands-free gestures such as scrolling down a page by focusing your eyes downward.

To that end, Tobii is releasing eye-tracking hardware for developers in March to allow for new kinds of applications, and it’s much cheaper than anything Tobii has released before. The EyeX developer unit (pictured above) costs $195 — five times cheaper than the company’s previous Rex developer unit. Tobii is also hoping for laptop integration later this year, with the ultimate goal of making it a standard feature like a webcam.

The technology has always impressed me in previous demos, and I should get a chance to try the EyeX next week during the CES trade show. SteelSeries will have more details on its eye tracking peripheral — including, presumably, the price — in the next several months, though it’ll look similar to the EyeX.


Inventor and FIRST® Founder Dean Kamen launched the 2014 FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) season today with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called AERIAL ASSISTSM before a crowd of 400 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., hometown of FIRST Headquarters. Nearly 70,000 high-school students on more than 2,700 teams in 92 cities around the globe joined the 2014 Kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast.

 “The students who participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition are not only building robots; they are building character, self-respect, and relationships with their peers,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development and FIRST Founder, adding, “Winning the game is fun, but the importance of FIRST is that you'll get much more out of it than you put in, and it's going to change the rest of your life.”

The 2014 game, AERIAL ASSIST, is played by two Alliances of three teams each. Alliances compete by trying to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two-minute and 30-second match. Additional points are earned by robots working together to score goals, and by throwing and catching balls over a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor as they move the ball down the field.

At today's Kickoff, FRC teams were shown the AERIAL ASSIST playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – and only limited instructions. Working with adult Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season's engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the 98 Regional and District competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

Sponsored by NASA and Needham, Mass.-based PTC, the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams from all over the world to come together as a community to share in the excitement of seeing the new game unveiled. Teams at local Kickoffs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and the U.S. watched the proceedings via NASA-TV and were offered workshops and a chance to meet other teams.

The FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) is an annual competition that helps students to discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. Approximately 68,000 high-school students from 17 countries will participate in the 2014 competition.

Louis, April 23-26. FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 130,000 dedicated Volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers, scientists, and teachers who mentor the next generation of innovators.


I'm sure this can, if  not already, be utilized for military/weapons purposes. I believe jet fighter pilots do have something similar though not quite the same.

newmanjb moderator

@hecsfiles I don't see why not, but the interesting thing here is that it's finally becoming cheap enough for consumer use.


@newmanjb Jared, I'm with a company that'll support this device on their first game. We're quite excited to have this partnership. Interested in knowing more about how we're going to use it? Is there a way of contacting you less publically? :)