Talk about hands-off! The upcoming SteelSeries Sentry is a gaming peripheral that you can use to play certain video games with your eyes. Touted as the first consumer eye-tracker, the Sentry will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month, and will ship in late January 2015.
The Sentry's eye-tracking software is developed by Stockholm-based Tobii Technology, who is already working with several game and app developers to integrate eye-tracking controls. Recently, Tobii announced a partnership with Pizza Hut to create Subconscious Menu, an app that will design pizza orders based on which toppings you look at for the longest.
A collaboration between Tobii and Copenhagen-based gaming hardware company Steelseries, the Sentry is a sensor bar that can be attached to the bottom of a computer screen. Gamers, developers and researchers can use the Sentry to record their eye movements during a game, and study that data to improve their play style or designs.
In addition, people who play online games like Starcraft II and DotA 2, and who stream their games online for other people to watch on streaming services such as Twitch, can use the Sentry to show their audiences what they're looking at in real time. This gives the audience a window of insight into pros' fast-paced playing style. On January 6 and 7, popular streamers CEH9 and Wagamama will be demonstrating the Sentry on their Twitch channels.
Overwolf, a platform that makes overlay apps for PC games such as Guild Wars 2, League of Legends and World of Warcraft, is also working with Tobii to create eye-tracked apps that will let players engage with games in new ways.
But for people to be able to play directly with their eyes, Tobii software needs to be integrated directly into the game's software. At CES, Tobii will also launch Tobii Arcade, a collection of apps and games whose "primary input" will be eye-tracking data. One of these is an upcoming indie game called Son of Nor, in which players will be able to use and control magical abilities such as fire and telekinesis using their eyes. (I tested this at the Game Developers' Conference last March).
Tobii says it's also working with "industry-leading partners in both augmented and virtual reality" to incorporate its eye-tracking technology into other gaming peripherals.
“2015 will be the year when eye tracking makes first entry into consumer markets and consumers will have their first tangible experiences with real eye tracking products in the wild, first with gaming and then within computing, ergonomic, and medical environments,” Tobii president Oscar Werner said in a statement.
Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.
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Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.