Germany-based Pupil Labs has jumped into the UX and control deep-end with a range of products that allow the user to add eye tracking to not only their existing augmented and virtual reality head-mounted displays but computers as well. This type of technology can add a new depth to the way we control devices.
Control of technology is a place of big experiments right now. With so many emergent technologies in the process of moving to collide at near the same time, it is also a place of big money as well.
Just this week, Leap Motion reported $50 million in Series C funding for the hand tracking solution they have been grinding away at for some time. Soon we will see fully articulated hand tracking that is easy to include in the latest smartglasses products.
Another form of tracking that seems to be gaining some momentum is eye tracking. Eye tracking uses some form of a sensor to understand the angle or direction your eye is pointing and then can move the cursor or active icon accordingly. Eyefluence demoed their version of eye tracking on stage at AWE 2016, with a set of Osterhout Design Groups R-7s, to impressive effect. Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all had patents filed for eye tracking solutions. A likely indicator of something to come.
Pupil Labs has not only released stand alone monocular and binocular eye tracking sets that works with your PC or Mac but they have also released a series of mods for popular XR devices currently out on the market. Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, Occulous DK2 as well at the Epson BT-200 and BT-300 models all have customized solutions for eye tracking now.
For roughly $2000 or two-thirds of what you paid for your HoloLens Dev Kit, you can now add the capability to track your eyes. The Epson headsets will set you back about $630 USD and the HTC Vive will run you roughly $1600. Of course, the next question is does any software exist that can utilize eye tracking yet?
With the exception of the Pupil Capture and Pupil Player, the underlying software that records and plays back the eye tracking information, it does not appear that there is much in the way of software is out there yet. That said, the software that does exist is open source and you can access the GitHub repository at your leisure.
Once fine-tuned given time and money, eye tracking, along side fine hand tracking, and voice control, like Cortana on the HoloLens, will likely be the pinnacle of technology control. At least until computers can read our minds — or predict what we will do to the point that they may as well be reading our minds.