You sit down to your notebook and open Internet Explorer without moving the cursor. Then you start scrolling down your favourite website simply by looking up and down. These are just two of the things the Tobii Rex will let consumers do when it launches later this year. How is it done. Well via Tobii Rex, a new unveiling at the CES 2013.
The Tobii Rex looks like a small speaker bar that sits between your laptop’s screen and deck, and plugs in via USB. Using multiple sensors and light-emitters, Rex can literally follow your eyes across the screen.
So what can you do with Rex? In one scenario, we could open any application just by pressing a button while staring at the Windows 8 tile we wanted to click. We could also easily select individual emails in the Mail app, no scrolling required.
Tobii showed off two other neat applications of the Rex, one of which is the ability to zoom in on a specific location on a map while looking at the area of the country you wanted to zero in on and pressing a button.
The next step for Tobii is to release the Rex Limited Edition for $999, allowing developers to go to town on creating possible applications. Then later this year the company will sell 5,000 Rex devices to consumers. It won’t be nearly as expensive, but it won’t be cheap either. However, Tobii says that not longer after its peripheral hits the market another company will sell a branded version of the Rex that will be more affordable.
As a tech demo, the Tobii Rex is pretty mind-blowing, but it makes sense to ask how practical this peripheral really is when so many laptops will be shipping with touch screens. For one, repeatedly reaching out and touching the display on a clamshell design can cause physical stress. Second, and more important, the Rex will be used for much more than navigation. Being able to aim in games with your eyes is just one among many uses.
Within the next couple of years, Tobii says the eye-tracking technology inside the Rex will find its way into Ultrabooks and eventually tablets, forever changing the way we interact with our gadgets.