Eye-controlled laptop raises eyebrows

A Swedish company has unveiled the world’s first laptop that can be controlled by the movement of the human eye. The Tobii Technology prototype allows users to scroll through documents, zoom in and out, and switch between windows without the use of a keyboard or mouse. The screen of the laptop also automatically dims when it detects that it is not being looked at.

The technology is already used for people with paralysis and in some car safety systems where an eye-tracker can detect if a driver is becoming drowsy. It was first developed in 2001 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, but this is the first time it has been modified for personal computer use.

“It’s definitely going to be in the laptops of the future,” Anders Olsson from Tobii told AFP. “You can do pretty much anything you would do with your normal laptop. We’ve been stuck for a quarter of a century with a keyboard and a mouse. It’s time to move to the next step and eye control technology is the perfect solution,” he added.

The prototype was showcased at the CeBIT technology fair in Germany last week. Only 20 laptops have so far been made, however, and it is thought that it will be at least a couple of years before the eye-tracking system reaches the wider market.

According to Tobii chief executive Henrik Eskilsson, the system, which is manufactured by Lenovo, marks an important step for the future of personal computers. “More than anything else, the Tobii laptop prototype is proof that our eye tracking technology is mature enough to be used in standard computer interfaces,” he said in a statement.