If you have a compatible eye-tracking device and a PC with Windows 10, you can now use your eyes to move your cursor around. Although it may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, Microsoft's eye control beta test has just launched around the world.
Not only can people use their eyes to move a mouse around the screen, they can also type on a keyboard and even use text-to-speech functions. Anybody who wants to try this out must have a Tobii Eye Tracker 4C with a compatible Microsoft computer.
News of this beta release was officially announced on Microsoft's blog on August 4th. Microsoft executives hope to get constructive feedback from people using this beta launch to help them fine-tune this revolutionary feature.
Anyone who's been following Microsoft over the years shouldn't be all that surprised by this latest innovation. The tech company has been interested in eye tracking technology ever since the 2014 Hackathon when Microsoft employees created the Eye Gaze Wheelchair.
This wheelchair was designed specifically for former NFL star Steve Gleason who suffers from Lou Gehrig's Disease (aka ALS). Gleason wrote to Microsoft at the start of 2014 urging them to create some kind of technology to help people with neuromuscular diseases.
People who suffer from neuromuscular diseases like ALS usually only have control over the movements of their eyes. That's why the Microsoft team focused on perfecting eye-tracking recognition in this wheelchair's design.
This project was so successful at the Hackathon that Microsoft subsequently created a research division to work on perfecting eye-tracking technology. This group of researchers continue to work closely with the non-profit Team Gleason and ALS patients around the world.
Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella told the crowd at 2017's Hackathon that this eye control technology is in all Windows 10 platforms. He also expressed his admiration for the research team's commitment to making a positive difference in lives of so many ALS sufferers.
It's extremely easy to test this update for yourself on a Windows 10 device. First, download the update onto your Tobii device. After that, go to "Settings." Once you're there, click the following: "Ease of Access," "Other Options," and "Eye Control."
A launchpad should immediately appear on your screen. Just choose the option you want and use your eyes to control your cursor.
The keyboard works the same way. After you choose it in the lauchpad, you can use your eyes to choose different letters. To make this process faster, you can "Swype" the words you want. This means you look directly at the first and last letters and glance at the letters in between. Also, there's a word predictor at the top of the keyboard to help you along.
Of course, since this eye control technology is in beta, don't expect everything to work perfectly. For example, many users have already noted that this technology doesn't work well in areas with a great deal of sunlight.
Despite these minor setbacks, people in the tech industry believe Microsoft is at the forefront of developing eye control software.