Microsoft is going to support native eye-tracking in Windows 10 to enable people with mobility problems to access Windows 10 desktops and laptops easily. Eye-tracking technology will allow such people to control applications and navigating on their Windows devices without physically interacting with any peripheral device. Already present on certain gaming laptops to collect gameplay stats, enabled through Tobii technology, it used third-party cameras and modules. But now Windows 10 will officially include this feature. This was confirmed by Satya Nadella as he made the announcement in this year’s hackathon.
Eye-tracking technology can serve as a useful application for people suffering from disabilities that prevent them from interacting with traditional input devices. Neuromuscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) deters muscle movement, hence they aren’t able to operate the mouse and keyboard. Announced in their official blog post, Microsoft stated how the idea of the feature started off during a hackathon three years ago. After having won the hackathon in 2014, the team behind it called Ability EyeGaze, got the Windows team interested in having this feature packaged into their operating system.
Tobii’s technology has been used in gaming laptops to track eye movement during gameplay and deliver relevant stats. Following the announcement of Windows, Tobii also announced on their blog mentioning official support for their Tobii Eye Tracker 4C camera hardware. Few existing features supported by the Tobii 4C in Windows 10 have been also listed down in the same blog. They include the feature to gazing at certain menus in the operating system like the app switcher. It will also implement power saving options by dimming down or turning off the display when a user isn’t detected in front of the screen.
They are calling it Eye Control and it’s currently available in beta in Windows 10. Users who have opted into the Windows Insider program will be able to use the beta program. Currently, in a highly nascent and limited stage, this feature will prove quite useful when eye-tracking will be enabled throughout the operating system. Users will be able to navigate through folders, view files, install applications, and even type using this technology. There aren’t any dates promised yet, and this feature will probably make its way into Windows 10 through an update next year.