Tobii Eye Asteroids, First Eye-Controlled Arcade Game (hands on/video)
“YOU are the controller” is the tagline for Microsoft Kinect. Tobii, a developer of eye-tracking technology, has a similar idea, though it’s zeroed in on one specific part of “you”–your eyes. A pair of peepers is all you need to play Eye Asteroids, which debuted at New York’s Dave & Buster’s arcade earlier this week.
The game is simple enough: Essentially a flashy update of the classic Atari title, Eye Asteroids sees the player pilot through seemingly endless fields of flying outer-space rocks. This time, however, you’re piloting an entire planet, the graphics are full color, and some dodging of radiation belts is thrown in, too. You use your eyes to control all of it–just glance at an asteroid to fire the planet-based laser that will cut it to pieces–though there’s a bit of head movement incorporated to avoid those fiery radiation fields.
The game calibrates to your eyes before you begin, though if you wear powerful glasses it can affect the quality of the calibration. Actual gameplay takes getting used to, mainly because we’re not used to simply looking at a target to shoot at it. It’s a bit unsettling at first–you get the sense this is how the X-Men’s Cyclops felt when he first discovered his powers.
Tobii has only made 50 Eye Asteroids game units, and they cost $15,000 each, so they’re probably only destined for big-name arcades and a few corporate showrooms. But the company says it has other products in the pipeline that we’ll see in the next couple of years–its already demo’d a prototype laptop that it partnered with Lenovo to make. Eye-controlled TVs? “Don’t blink” just took on new meaning.