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Eye-Based Videogame Control

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-can-see-you dept.


dsmith3689 writes "Researchers at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario have explored the use of an eye tracker as a control device for a handful of commercial video games. To do this, they integrated a Tobii 1750 desktop eye tracker with Quake 2, Neverwinter Nights, and a flash adaptation of Missile Command called Lunar Command. A study was performed that indicates the use of direct feedback from eye movements can drastically increase the feeling of immersion (pdf) in the virtual world."

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Just watch out for the shrapnel (3, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836309)

It hurts.

Forget video games (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15836325)

With this technology you could finally have a window manager that implements "focus follows mind".

Re:Forget video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15836362)

Well, it'd actually be focus-follows-eyes, which pretty much defeats the purpose of focus-follows-mouse, since I want to watch one thing while working in a window below it.

Re:Forget video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15837545)

Most video players & window managers have an always-on-top option.

Re:Forget video games (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836370)

Might make transcription a little difficult though.

Re:Forget video games (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15838550)

I guess in that frame of mind, what will happen sooner is Ads follows Eye. Wherever you are watching the crappy Flash Animation follows you.
Or worse, nobody is watching during the ads ... your TV tuner goes in time delay mode you show what you have missed as soon as you come back.

Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836329)

Ya know what really pisses me off. You get a link to a web site. You go there and read all this interesting product information. You look at all the pretty pictures and decide you want to buy. Then you discover there's no "Buy Now" button. There's no shopping cart. There's just a Contact tab with a form for you to submit your details. Like you've got to beg to buy their product. Dickheads.

Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836366)

You know the old saying... If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.

http://techfee.washington.edu/proposals/2006-110 [washington.edu]

Yes, that says $24,000 just for the hardware. Software is another $4,000.

Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836430)

Pathetic. I can buy a £5000 bottle of scotch [glenfiddich.co.uk] online but I can't buy a 17" TFT monitor with eye tracking? Here's hoping someone with bigger aspirations comes up with a cheaper technique and goes and gets buy-in from games companies so the next AAA shooter title supports it. Nothing lowers prices like 10 million gamers ordering a unit - perhaps from a website that actually has a shopping cart.

Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (2, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836948)

A cheap web cam: http://insidecomputer.stores.yahoo.net/usbwebcamwe p.html [yahoo.net] $7
This book: http://www.nerdbooks.com/item.php?id=1852336668 [nerdbooks.com] $45
GCC compiler: http://gcc.gnu.org/ [gnu.org] $0
A lot of time: http://www.time.org/ [time.org] $0
$52 + tax, shipping, etc.

And there you go.

Or just go here: http://www.it4tomorrow.de/shop/index.php?lang=ENG& list=KAT14 [it4tomorrow.de]
Or read this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/06040 4091149.htm [sciencedaily.com]
Which will lead you here: http://www.cogain.org/ [cogain.org]
Which will lead you here: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/developm ent/ [cam.ac.uk]

Now, from there, I'm stuck. I can't find any more information on the OWL. But it was invented in 1987 and could be mass produced for around $10 (according to the link), so I see potential there.


Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836985)

Oh, and I found this, too: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~jerryzhu/cs540/project/rep ort/webcam/final_report.html [wisc.edu]

And there might be something good here: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~jerryzhu/cs540/project/rep ort/webcam/final_report.html [wisc.edu] but, then, I didn't poke around here too much.

And this one: http://hcvl.hci.iastate.edu/cgi-bin/openEyes.cgi [iastate.edu]

And....I'm done. That's enough link to keep anyone busy for a while.


Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15837055)

Webcams have improved much lately, but I doubt they're good enough yet, also, they might not capture the best wavelengths.
  Maybe this system uses mid IR ('heat vision'), like I think TIR does. Eyes are hotter than the rest of your body, which means at the right wavelengths, the contrast is high.
  Another thing to keep in mind, are the almighty fps, webcams with output like in Hackers would be awful, you need a higher refresh frequency for a controller than you need to have 'nice video'.
  So yes, you do need special hardware, although the software would not be an issue if the hardware became available.

Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15838954)

I did finally find this link about the OWL: http://www.redcedar.com/owlQandA.html [redcedar.com]

After reading this, the OWL seems more like the eye controlled focus found in the Cannon Elan-IIe camera and less like true tracking. But, then, that might actually be better for some gaming.

For those not familiar with the camera, it had several focusing points (7 in the shape of a 5x3 cross - count the center one twice, so yes, 5x3). To compose a shot, instead of having to point the center of the lens at the focus point, pushing half-way, and then recomposing, you could just look at one of the focusing points, push and VIOLA. In my opinion, one of the coolest features of any camera, not sure why you don't see it more.


Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

Thrymm (662097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836449)

Add another $2100 for the tax!

Re:Tobii: Put prices on your web site! (1)

Corunet (856471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15838821)

I think there's room in the market for a cheap version. Probably a usb camera version... I'll think about that.

Why BB2B2B2BB2B sites use "call for price" (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836511)

Then you discover there's no "Buy Now" button. There's no shopping cart. There's just a Contact tab with a form for you to submit your details. Like you've got to beg to buy their product.

At least in the industrial fan market, the requirement to request a quote is so that larger companies who make competing products can't spider your site and undercut all your prices due to their larger materials buying power. It's actually a rawther common practice in business-to-business markets.

Re:Why BB2B2B2BB2B sites use "call for price" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836547)

In other words: to prevent fair competition.

Re:Why BB2B2B2BB2B sites use "call for price" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15837215)

Well, no. Its to prevent unfair competition. Its still preventing competition, but I'd hardly call it fair if your local megastore gets wind of your prices, strikes a deal with the supplier for 1/2 your cost and sells at a price that you have no way to reach.

Re:Why BB2B2B2BB2B sites use "call for price" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837288)

How the hell is that not fair?

Not good for those like me... (1)

Jtoxification (678057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836367)

My eyes have enough blood flowing through them that they sometimes jerk in harmony with each pulse. I can see how it'd be "bloody" cool to be able to control the camera angle by eyesight, but I'm pretty certain it'd be a jerky ride for people like me.

Hey! (2, Funny)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836394)

I have a lazy eye, you insensitive clods!

Re:Hey! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837018)

You have an eye? Lucky bastard. We have to share an eye between three of us.


Re:Hey! ...New meaning to camping (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837039)

That's not being an insensitive clod...That is giving you an advantage and a specific role in any fps games - you'll be the uber camping whore!

Re:Hey! Modded funny? (2, Interesting)

Were-Rabbit (959205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837570)

Actually, you bring up a very good point. Does this device take things like lazy eye into account? Does it only track the movements of one eye or both? This would be a great tool for those who don't have appropriate use of hands or have some kind of physical damage that would make handling a mouse or trackball difficult or impossible. But could this thing compensate for lazy eye or those who only have one useful eye?

*twitch* (2, Informative)

cheese-cube (910830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836420)

They have had technology like this for a while, although not as a method of input or control. They use special "eye-tracking" machines for hazard perception experiments with automobiles. I think using eye-tracking as an input device would be something that would be very hard to get used to. The human eye is a pretty amazing piece of hardware and I think a "machine" would have a hard time utilising it. Additionally you'd also have to have a special filter for crack addicts that have developed twitches. They could also implement shortcuts where if you roll your eyes it opens Firefox and navigates to Slashdot =P

Re:*twitch* (4, Informative)

ohmypolarbear (774072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836973)

To add to this: we use eye tracking systems in my brain lab (at a major research university). It is, in fact, highly unusual for subjects to only look at one thing, or even to look at whatever they want to do when they do it. There are many extra eye movements (saccades) to other areas of a scene for planning and multitasking, even before the person is conscious of their plans. Here are two papers relating to eye tracking and games in particular:

motion tracking and planning:
Ripoll H. Percept Mot Skills. 1989 Apr;68(2):507-12. [nih.gov]

Cavanagh P, Alvarez GA. Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Jul;9(7):349-54. [nih.gov]

Needless to say, any successful attempt at eye-tracking control for something like video games would have a lot of sophisticated programming to do in order to figure out the user's intentions. From my own personal experience, especially in FPS games, I rarely look where I'm shooting. I would like to keep my sensors (eyeballs) and effectors (hands/feet/other body parts) separate, to allow me to take in more information and perform mor actions simultaneously. It would also prevent any weird interactions if the training provided by the games affects the way hardcore gamers attempt to interact with the real world (although those would be very interesting to study).

Re:*twitch* (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837210)

I wish I had mod points so I could give you +5 Informative. That's really interesting. As you said a game would require a lot of sophisticated code in order to use eye movements as a method of control and I think this sophisticated code would just reduce game performance. Also you would have to have a specialised piece of hardware in order for it to work. Unless they can work out some ingenious algorithms or such that lets you use something like a webcam to track eye movements I really don't think its very feasible or practical.

However I could see myself using it as a method of switching focus when using multiple monitors. When I use my laptop at home I plug in another monitor which sits to the right of me at a 45 angle to me so in that situation I believe that using eye-tracking as a method of switching focus would be a good idea. However not everyone has a setup like that so it's really just a pipe dream.

Re:*twitch* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15839575)

I spent some time at the Tobii both at Siggraph 2006 and was very impressed with their setup. What I played with was their all-in-one unit which is basically a tablet pc with sensors on the top & bottom (they also have a unit that is integrated into an LCD which could be attached to any computer). It takes very little setup to get the software up and running and at least two different control schemes. One includes a small switch that you press when you are looking at the selection you want (whatever is currently selected is indicated by a pulsing red dot). The more advanced control scheme relies on you "dwelling" or hovering over a selection for about a second and then it is selected.
Based on the maturity of the product I saw, I think it has great practical use in videogaming!

double click (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15836434)

Cross your eyes to double click.

Cool idea; looks like it still needs work (2, Insightful)

StupidKatz (467476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836457)

... or a new interface to software/games to compensate for the apparent lack of accuracy and speed (note the Quake 2 demo video), at least in FPS-style games.

Could absolutely rock if tweaked minutely for flight and other simulation games, though. :)

Re:Cool idea; looks like it still needs work (2, Interesting)

minsk (805035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836808)

A lot of that could probably be improved with more powerful algorithms. One of the problems encountered in the Quake demo was that minor twitches threw the gun all over the place. As a result, there is a fairly simple damping (AFAIK just a threshold) in effect to make the game playable.

An algorithm to differentiate unconscious twitches, instantaneous glances, and actual targetted gaze would probably produce a much more impressive control system. My personal feeling is that the best environments will be those where the direction of view is decoupled from the direction of movement, e.g. looking around in first-person, selecting things in a 3rd person, etc.

(Disclaimer: I know the folks behind the paper, but was not involved with the experiment)

They've used these for ages... (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15836685)

...for people that can't move. I helped someone fix their computer who had the eye tracking thing for someone that was paralyzed.

My grandson (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15836980)

Hello, Michael Zenke:
This is Wendy Lestina, your brief hostess from the recent past. Soon, you will be read by my game-besotted grandson, Matthew Lestina, and I trust you will be kind.
Best to all,

Sounds like a big headache to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15837023)

At least for most videogame applications

Independent view point games? (2, Interesting)

SteroidG (609799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837431)

I wish they had done some demos on games with independent view point, such as the upcomming Armed Assault, Lock On and other flight sims. I'm really interested to see if it'll work better than TrackIR [naturalpoint.com] .

From the Quake 2 demo, it's really not giving any advantages because your moves with the gun and the body. In Armed Assaunt (or Operation Flashpoint for that matter) where environment awareness is much more important (and *gasps* you head is not attached to the gun!), being able to look around means you have a much greater field of view and able to spot more enemies, check on your team mates to stay in formation, and maybe avoiding the helicopter collisions that we so often have.

What kind of effect... (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837583)

...would this technology have on a game like, say, Dead or Alive: Xtreme Volleyball?


Re:What kind of effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15837910)

You'd lose. Very quickly.

For the record.. no aimbotting (1)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15837913)

He totally missed the target the first time he fired... come on really? How will this help my counter-strike? If this cannot make me a better counter-strike player I could care less... geesh....

X-Craft (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15838128)

This might work pretty well for games like Starcraft or Warcaft, any RTS or TBS for that matter. I can see this working especially well with games where you have to have pinpoint accuracy. For example C&C, if you don't click exactly on the pixels required to highlight that unit, you can screw yourself up.

This could also push forward a new generation of Arcade shooters. Growing up by the ocean there were always Arcades on the boardwalks, so I learned to play all sorts of games. My favorites are the Time Crisis series, Police Trainer, etc. This technology could have unprecedented accuracy when compared to those cruddy plastic pistols and could definitely set a fire under the asses of the arcade gaming industry. Let's just hope they don't start charging $5 a play because the parts are overexpensive.

Re:X-Craft (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15839945)

This is offtopic but,
It's "What happens when The Unstoppable Force hits The Immovable Object?"

Desktop Environment Control (2)

vigilology (664683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15838404)

The one thing my Windowmaker needs is something to autofocus the window I'm currently looking at. I can't remember how many times I've drifted in thought and looked at another terminal, started typing, only to find I'm still typing in the other one :-)

Prior Art (1)

jewens (993139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15843967)

Robotech did it first. One of the pilots created an eye tracking aiming system for the battle simulator/video game to great effect.
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