LAS VEGAS — The future of PC gaming is here, and I'm not talking about virtual reality. Tobii AB, leader in eye-tracking technology, has teamed with MSI to launch the world's first gaming laptop with an integrated eye-tracker. Using a modified MSI GT72 Tobii (available sometime in January), the integrated cameras will sync your eye movement with your in-game line of sight instead of just tracking your keystrokes during a heavy duty session of Heroes of the Storm or DOTA 2.
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I took the tricked out Dominator Pro for a spin on the CES Unveiled show floor. What looks like a simple, glossy black bar with three, bright red circular lights is comprised of an eye-tracker, several sensors and and micro-projectors. The components work together to capture images of your eyes at a high frame rate and calculates the your gaze point on the stream.
Although the underlying technology sounds rather complicated, getting started was fairly simple. The Tobii representative ran a program that calibrated the cameras to my eyes using a pair of white dots. As the hardware began reading my peepers, I noticed that the two dots representing my eyes began to sync up, blinking when I did. From there, I was instructed to pop three pink balloons by staring at them. Once that was complete, I was ready to to start gaming.
My demo consisted of raising hell in Grand Theft Auto V. I grabbed the Xbox 360 controller and was pleasantly surprised that someone had activated the mod to allow my character to shoot fireballs from my hands. Instead of using the analog stick, I simply looked at a point on the screen (designated by a clear amorphous blob) and pressed the B button to unleash fiery mayhem on the approaching officers.
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Navigating with my eyes took some getting used to, especially fighting the urge to move my head around. But after 2 to 3 minutes, I was proficient enough to target a hovering helicopter and blow it out the sky. The tracking was relatively quick with about 0.05 seconds of lag. If I focused on one spot long enough, the camera began to pan 360 degrees allowing me to wash the entire area in fireballs.
Unlike the other configuration of the GT72 Dominator Pro, the GT72S Tobii features a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU, instead of the desktop version (GeForce GTX 980). That means that while you'll have the capability to play Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin's Creed Syndicate with your eyes, the system is not compatible with VR headsets such as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. But on the bright side, gamers that invest in the notebook when it launches will receive a copy of the highly anticipated Tom Clancy's The Division.
Tobii's technology is more than a cool gaming mechanic. It will also allow security-minded consumers to take advantage of Windows Hello, the Windows 10 feature that uses facial and eye-tracking to sign owners into their laptops. When it launches, the GT72S Tobii will be the only gaming laptop on the market to offer both features.
Neither MSI or Tobii were ready to divulge a price point for this integrated system, but with a rapidly approaching launch date, an announcement should be coming soon. Stay tuned to Laptop Mag for more details on this truly innovative technology.