While we were at CES we saw a whole load of really cool tech, but by far, one of the best had to be from a company called Tobii who produce Eye Tracking Hardware for games.
Most of us know about Track IR, if not here’s a brief summary: “It’s a head tracking input device designed for use with gaming and simulation PC titles. It is an infrared camera that tracks the position and orientation of your head, and then sends that data to any of the 100+ TrackIR Enhanced games and simulations including FSX, P3D and X-Plane.
Tobii design and manufacture Eye tracking hardware and believe it or not, it works very well. You have to calibrate it by looking at rotating cubes on a screen and once that’s done you can start moving the camera around in a game using only your eyes.
It’s a lot smoother than you think, you focus on an object in the game and the system then moves that object into the centre of the screen. After a few seconds it becomes natural and moving the camera doesn’t even bear thinking about because it’s so easy.
I know eye tracking has existed before, but this is such a compact and robust system that is so simple and works incredibly effectively, unfortunately, platforms such as FSX and X-Plane are currently not supported yet, but P3D is! For the others it would simply take one of them to use the developer kit to bring this to the sim. I had a go with it inside the space game, Elite Dangerous and it was on a different level completely to Track IR!
Following this, I had a quick chat to the development team at Tobii just to make sure that they were aware that platforms such as FSX and X-Plane exist and that they should make their hardware compatible with it. They assured me that they are looking to expand the library of games available to potentially include these titles in the near future, if not, we will have to look to Laminar Research and Dovetail Games to include support for Tobii’s Eye Tracking hardware in their sims. It’s great that it supports Lockheed Martins P3D, all we need now is X-Plane!
To put the cherry on the cake, the unit is only €159 which brings it right into the realms of TrackIR and you’re definitely getting a better product. It’s also available built into select MSI and Alienware gaming laptops and also a few Acer Monitors!
Overall a really cool piece of tech that the uptake of by simmers, should grow as the support from developers does too.
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