Proponents of eye tracking argue that it is a faster and more natural way of controlling the action in video games, such as first-person shooters. As a result, it could help level the playing field for players who are less adept at using game controllers. Or, it could create an unfair advantage for those who have such a system.
Of course, the key is making sure that the technology works accurately and in real time so that it outperforms the split-second movements players can make with controllers or computer mice. Eye tracking by itself might not be a full system for gamers. But it will be part of the mix of new input and display technologies like virtual reality goggles, gesture control, touch screens, and other newfangled offerings aimed at bringing people inside their games in new ways.
Using eye-tracking technology from Tobii, the system will track your eyes as they move around to different spots on the computer screen. Both Tobii and SteelSeries are revealing the Sense system at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show in Los Angeles this week. The companies first showed off the system at the 2014 International CES in January.
Tobii’s tech promises precision control. It uses a camera-like device to detect your eyeball in three dimensions and then determines precisely where you are looking on a screen. It has commercialized the technology for control systems for people with disabilities. And it has also built the Tobii EyeX controller that also enables clinical researchers to track eye movements for studies.
“When you think about the concept of eye tracking, you immediately think of innovation and next generation technology. Apply that to gaming and you have something truly unique for gamers,” said Tino Soelberg, SteelSeries chief technology officer. “At its core, the Sentry employs eye-tracking functionality from our partner, Tobii, who has been a pioneer in eye tracking across many industries. When you take that core functionality and apply the deep gaming expertise of SteelSeries, we think we are able to offer a product that is innovative and incredibly beneficial to gamers.”
Sony has also recently shown off eye-tracking technology that it is developing in its research labs.
The Sentry system allows a player access to a wide range of stats based on where and how long he or she stays focused, or fixated, on the screen. It tracks fixations per minute (FPM) or how often a person moves his or her eye gaze and attention around the screen. If the player gets low values, that indicates that he or she is able to process a lot of information, and that correlates to the total number of actions per minute (APM) a player can perform.
SteelSeries is working with some of the world’s top-performing professional gamers to establish peak-performance benchmarks. So, people will be able to compare their performance in games with those of the top players and learn how to use their eyes to improve their playing.
Chief gaming officer and former captain of Team Fnatic, Patrik “cArn” Sättermon, said, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve, even if it’s improvement at a granular level. That will sometimes be the difference between death and victory. Our players are incredibly motivated to not only use the Sentry eye tracker for their own gaming but to be able to create standards that other players can measure their progress against.”
SteelSeries and Tobii will also work with additional partners to implement eye-tracking functionality into other platforms. For example, Overwolf is working with the Sentry to optimize the social aspect of gaming by implementing eye-tracking accessibility into its overlay application. It will provide Sentry users with instant access to its social media channels, as well as the ability to share their gaming sessions.
The SteelSeries Sentry eye tracker will be available to gamers later this year.