Using Your Eyes To Control Windows 8

January 5, 2012

There are many reasons to get excited about Windows 8, from the new touch-friendly Metro interface to its changes that speed up the OS in general.

I also feel that one of the greatest parts about the new OS is that it is changing the way we interact with our PCs.

Right now most of us have a keyboard and mouse, maybe even a webcam. We use the keyboard/mouse for all navigation most likely too, the webcam is just for communicating over the net.

Some do have microphones but most of us don’t use Windows 7 voice commands at all.

With Windows 8 we finally see a push to new navigation in the form of touch, voice, and motion.

New technologies like “Kinect for Windows” will take Windows 8 to a new level allowing easy navigation with just a few movements of the hand.

The innovation doesn’t stop there though. A company named Tobii that specializes in eye-tracking technology has just developed new software that works with Windows 8.

Using the “Eye Control Device”, which is basically just a special webcam, the software for Windows 8 can tell which parts of the screen your gaze is focused on with enough accuracy and precision to detect which app you want to launch.

Beyond this functionality, Tobii says that their technology can emulate every swipe motion available on Windows 8 too, all while using eye tracking.

This makes the most sense for touch-screen desktops and laptops because you won’t have to reach out as much and dirty up your monitor.

While pretty cool of an idea, the ideal futuristic Windows 8 Desktop Machine is starting to look like a pretty cluttered place.

You have an awesome touchscreen monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, a Kinect, and now an “Eye Control Device”.

Considering the ECD is pretty much a webcam, I wonder how hard it would be for Tobii to eventually release a version of their software that instead uses the Kinect?

This would save on deskspace and cost. Of course it could also cut into Tobii’s profits and so it might not be an option for the company.

I could certainly see the development of some kind of clone software that does the same job though.

I’m really starting to like the way Windows 8 and the future of the desktop is looking. I can just imagine in a year or two, putting together a new desktop machine.

It will have Kinect, maybe some kind of eye tracking system, and voice. The one thing that is missing is a high quality “Personal Digital Assistant” like Siri for iOS or perhaps the new Windows Phone “Ask Ziggy”.

While I realize these kinds of assistants are built with mobile in mind, I think they could still benefit the PC user experience.

This is even more true if you had a smarthouse-technology system that had speakers throughout your house that could root inquires back to your PC. How cool would that be?

Probably not cool enough to justify the cost of putting together such an expensive configuration, but still.

Here’s a video showing more..

What kind of unique PC experience, both interface and input ideas, do you hope to see in the next few years?

Or do you think that things like Kinect, EDC, and touch are more ‘novelty’ items that will never truly see success on the desktop scene?

Share your thoughts below.

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Mike Johnson is a writer for The Redmond Cloud - the most comprehensive source of news and information about Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. He enjoys writing about Azure Security, IOT and the Blockchain.

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