Alienware and Tobii have their eyes on you. The two companies have teamed up to bring Tobii's eye-tracking technology to the Alienware 15 and 17 starting September 30. While using your eyes to play triple A titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Assassin's Creed Rogue is fun, Tobii has gotten smarter, allowing the integrated hardware and software to anticipate your actions based on your presence and attention. I had a chance to check out the enhanced laptop and it's definitely a notebook to watch.
Find the Sensors
By all accounts, the Alienware 17 Tobii looks like a regular laptop, until you take a gander at the bezel and notice the bottom-mounted sensors. However, unlike the setup on the MSI GT72S G Tobii, the sensors are hidden underneath the glossy plastic. It makes for a more polished presentation and it's one I hope other laptop manufacturers will adopt.
Keep Your Eyes on the Game
In previous versions, the Tobii Eye appeared as an amorphous blob called a gaze overlay as you played through video games, controlling the camera and providing a visual representation of your glance. Tobii has developed a suite of new features focusing on the eSport and competitive gaming crowds. Designed to track and record eye movements, the features could potentially improve performance.
Replay HUD, for instance, is a playback tool that shows where you looked during game replays in an effort to improve a gamer's situational awareness using gaze overlay. Players will also have the ability to view this information during game captures. The End Screen feature displays your gaze data as a heatmap, to show gamers where they're focusing most of their attention while playing.
However my favorite use case allows gamers to use gaze overlays while streaming for Twitch. Now when you're in the thick of battle, you can draw your audience's attention to points of interest simply by looking at it.
Although gaming with Tobii is definitely cool, you're not going to be gaming all the time. So Tobii whipped up a few non-gaming features you can take advantage that have been tweaked specifically for Alienware.
There's Wake on Gaze, which launches the laptop from sleep when you look directly at the Alienware logo. Stay Awake/Dim Screen are presence-based features that activate when the viewer is nearby and engaged with the screen. A quick glance away will cause the panel to dim. Autolock is a security feature that allows the notebook to look when you step away from the device. You also have access to Windows Hello's face-recognition software to skip entering a password.
Tobii's tech will also have some control over the lighting, turning off the backlighting when gazing at the screen to conserve energy. And in those instances where you are checking out the keyboard, only the section you're looking at will be illuminated. The effect also applies to the logo and other light fixtures on the system.
Although some of the features are Alienware 17-exclusive, Stay Awake, Dim Screen and Autolock will be available on certain models of the Alienware 13 and 15.
I had a blast using Tobii's technology with a gaming laptop earlier this year and am glad to see more companies embracing it. As excited as I am to integrate gaze overlay into my Twitch streams, I'm just as amped about the non-gaming features. The lighting and panel dimming software is a smart, non-gimmicky way to get gamers on board with the tech. Hopefully, we'll see Tobii making the leap to business laptops in the near future.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.