New Tech Allows Users to Control a PC with Eyes

Dennis Faas's picture

A new video game allows players to shoot at three-dimensional asteroids with weapons controlled only by their eyeballs. Importantly, the technology behind this game could be used for other purposes, too.

The game is an update to Asteroids, an Atari classic. However, the new version is available only as an old-school standalone arcade cabinet, rather than as software for computers or games consoles.

This is necessary because the "eye control" technology requires specialized equipment to accomplish its eyeball tracking. However, PC manufacturer Lenovo has already tried installing the device in a demonstration laptop.

Light Beamed Into Cornea Bounces Back

The technology uses a light frequency close to infrared. This light is beamed into the player's eyeballs through the cornea, the transparent material at the front of the eye, and is then reflected back to a camera.

The system is able to pinpoint the eyeball's pupil and iris within the reflected image. From this information, it can track the movement of the eyeball and figure out exactly where the user is looking.

There's no need to wear any special glasses, and the system is capable of coping with normal head movement while playing the game.

Those who've tried it out say the technology is surprisingly immersive, and it takes only about 30 seconds of play to forget their eyes are being tracked to control the game. (Source:

Redesigned System Now 3D Compatible

The newest version of this technology involves a much smaller device than ever before. It manages to fit the two projectors and the cameras needed to track both eyes into a module a little longer than a pen.

The system has also been tweaked to allow the player to look at a simulated 3D image, which makes the game feel more realistic.

The 3D image makes for a little more complex tracking task, as the actual place the player is looking on the game's display screen is not necessarily where the player perceives the objects to be.

Tobii, the company that makes the eye-tracking equipment, says it would like to sell the system directly to manufacturers to build into their devices.

Eye-reading technology is already used to help people with physical disabilities control a computer more easily. However, Tobii believes its improvements could make the capability useful in other specialist market niches.

For example, fast, sophisticated, and highly accurate eyeball tracking could help air traffic controllers, who deal with highly detailed visual information, sometimes displayed on multiple screens. (Source:

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