back to article Did eye just do that? Microsoft brings gaze tracking to Windows 10

Goodbye, keyboard. Goodbye, mouse. To use Windows, soon all you'll need is your vision. In addition to native eye-tracking support, Windows 10 will eventually offer users the option to control the mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech with only their eyes and a camera, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced last week at Redmond's …

  1. vir

    Nothing yet on how they'll incorporate it into "interactive advertising" kiosks and the like? Well I'm sure the enterprising minds that thought tagging PlayStation ads on the sidewalk will come up with an innovative solution.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: Enterprising minds...

        I would vote for stupid.

    2. joed

      With the popularity of reflective surface coated sunglasses and everpresent stickers on laptop cameras I somehow see only limited success of this tech. Most people are sheep but even them are turned off by big brother experience (real concern or just gossip). And who would trust MS?

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Steady on. This is Microsoft we are talking about.

      "Sorry, no eye detected, did you forget your eye? Please insert any eye to continue"

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Great, but...

    The number of times I've looked at the screen and started to type, only to realise that I had the cursor active in a different windows..

    On the other hand, what about when you are looking at source material in one window, whilst typing in another.

    I can see a lot of advantages, as well as problems with this. Certainly a huge step for those with limited motor functions and I'd certainly find it useful at times, but I can also see that it would be annoying or get in the way for many as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @big_D - Re: Great, but...

      Didn't smart phones and Windows 8 teach you are not supposed to open more than one window ? Sheesh!

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Great, but...

      For myself and perhaps others like me, this has value. Due to a shipyard accident, I've bone spurs growing into and shredding my spinal cord from my skull to C6. Also the whole thing is fusing itself along with severing the Vagus nerves as they grow out. Way beyond any intervention due to malpractice by the Navy and Veteran's Administration. Can't even sue them.

      Typing is already a chore as my fingers don't always go where I'm mentally directing them. Mouse, too. So gaze tracking combined with Dragon Naturally Speaking or similar really, really sounds (pun intended) good. I've been buying hardware for builds over the last twenty years that was very (overly?) capable for DNS and other speech-to-text solutions. And I finally have a tablet (Fusion5 10.6" 108 in case you're interested) that doesn't need me to spend much to take advantage there.

      So, they may actually get me off (heavily modded) Windows 8.1U1 on a lapable device over to Windows 10. Getting something where it'd work that I can afford as portable is another question. Great timing here, though. I've one new, extremely capable* build in process as well as one rebuild, quite a bit less capable as it's the media server**. It takes me a hell of a lot more time than it used to on those, dammit.

      Need compatible camera. Also measuring what I can stuff in wheelchair undercarriage. Oh, goody! A real reason to go all over the web and drool over hardware. My favorite rabbit-hole.

      *-Dual Xeon, 96 GB, Tesla, massive storage capacity.

      ** Core 2 Duo, could stuff a Quad in there. You now see these puppies selling under $100 now refurbished. Hyper-fast storage though, now.

  3. Patched Out
    Black Helicopters

    OMG!

    Does that mean they will be able to turn my monitor into a camera?!?

    First the microwave, now this!

    Their software is going to think my face looks like the sticky side of some black electrical tape.

    1. Tikimon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: OMG!

      "Their software is going to think my face looks like the sticky side of some black electrical tape."

      You know the little peep-view picture cameras for kids? I'm going to replace the unicorns with pictures of Satan, a huge bloodshot eye, the goatse picture, and other interesting things. Then stick it over the camera on the laptop. Once in a while press the "shutter" and advance to the next picture. It's designed for zero-relief viewing so should be nice and sharp in the camera's view.

      As far as the article subject, it's a brilliant idea for the disabled.

  4. adnim Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What?

    "Any privacy concerns would revolve around whether it was possible to identify individuals with the eye-tracking data, and whether it was stored."

    Eye tracking data would be as much as a privacy concern as keyboard monitoring and mouse tracking data.

    The fact that a camera is constantly monitoring ones face is not a privacy concern?

    I guess not as we all know a person cannot be identified from a photograph or video footage. </sarcasm>

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Biometric sensing a privacy concern? My Arse!

      https://phys.org/news/2011-12-unleash-car-seat-rear.html

      Oh! OK, then.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: What?

        "Biometric sensing a privacy concern? My Arse!"

        Arse-cameras coming, too. Watching your anus pucker up based on what you're seeing/reading

        And here I was thinking I'd be safe if I merely SAT on the camera...

  5. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Great! I could get a job as an AI tester: Will it cope with my severe nystagmus or have a nervous breakdown?

  6. RyokuMas Silver badge
    WTF?

    Masking tape, meet webcam

    So, Windows 10 - renowned for introducing a metric fuckton of additional telemetry into Microsoft's OS offering - is now offering eye tracking...

    ... over my cold, dead corpse will I trust this.

    Is this some kind of race to the bottom as to who can be the most evil?

    1. Michael B.

      Re: Masking tape, meet webcam

      No, it's providing a input mechanism for those who can not use a keyboard and mouse with only the use of a webcam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Masking tape, meet webcam

        No, it's providing a input mechanism for those who can not use a keyboard and mouse with only the use of a webcam.

        Yes but... For how long eh? It will only take a registry tweak to make it a service that can't be turned off if you have a camera on your device.

        also a really tempting thing to hack.

        I have electrical tape over my laptop camera. We have gotta keep that spying at bay, well until Ms Rudd decrees that we have to have CCTV cameras in every room (including the lavvy) just in case we are doing something we shouldn't be doing in the privacy of our homes.

      2. Flakk Silver badge

        Re: Masking tape, meet webcam

        No, it's providing a input mechanism for those who can not use a keyboard and mouse with only the use of a webcam.

        Does that mean that this will be off by default, as all of the other OS Accessibility Options are?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Michael B. - Re: Masking tape, meet webcam

        Don't fool yourself, Michael. Those people with disabilities are not that great contributors to Microsoft wealth. Microsoft already knows that and you should know it too by now.

        1. Michael B.

          Re: @Michael B. - Masking tape, meet webcam

          No they aren't great contributors to Microsoft's profit margins but they still spent money in the form of development time to add accessibility features to support those users anyway. (They'll probably never make a profit on those users ever.) One of the previous versions added Braille reader support and they've been improving and tweaking screen reader support version by version.

      4. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Masking tape, meet webcam

        OK Stephen Hawkings release, fine with me. I still have access to my limbs, at least for now, and so I'll stick with keyboard+mouse k-thanks [mostly keyboard]

  7. Teiwaz Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm looking at wut?

    The last thing I need is Cortana also complaining that I'm staring at her breasts...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm looking at wut?

      If you could do that it might make Cortana more popular......

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: I'm looking at wut?

      However, the "staring at breasts" applications might well benefit from a hands-free user interface!

      </Rule35>

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

    As a parent of a profoundly-disabled child I have a somewhat different perspective on this, and IMHO Microsoft are - for once - to be applauded in integrating support for eye-tracking devices tightly into Windows.

    Tobii's Eye Gaze technology is already well-established in the world of Special Needs: many UK special schools have a Tobii system somewhere, and my own child uses one most days. For those people who can use it Eye Gaze can have a genuinely transforming effect on their lives, allowing the user to communicate and interact with their environment to a far more sophisticated degree than is possible otherwise.

    The privacy concerns voiced in other comments are real and serious, of course, but I'd prefer to balance the risks more in favour of the benefits that this type of assistive technology can bring. Besides, we're not talking about any old cheap webcam here - the paranoid can simply leave the Eye Gaze device unplugged.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

      I totally agree on its potential usefulness. However....

      The paranoia is just the result of Microsofts track record of ramming any and almost every potentially invasive piece of technology down users throats.

      We're all expecting this useful tech to suddenly be installed whether needed or not, whether requested or not, and to be suddenly reactivated upon system updates for no discernible or documented reason, while the results of its usage are piped back to the mothership 'to help perfect and provide feedback on usage'.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

        "The paranoia is just the result of Microsofts track record of ramming any and almost every potentially invasive piece of technology down users throats."

        that would be the SANITIZED version of things. My opinion is that it's been shoved into the OTHER END the entire time. That way they can hear you SCREAM...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

          Face facts Bob

          It wouldn't matter one iota if Microsoft took out every bit of telemetry tomorrow and donated all proceeds to charity - you'd still have a pop at them.

          This childish attitude of SOME (NOTE SOME - not going through that argument again) non MS users is really REALLY tedious - People will still choose MS products because they want to or need to, people will still choose Linux because they want to or need to, to say Manufs shouldn't bundle Windows with PC's or should all provide Linux drivers is forcing people to do what they choose not to. Its a free market economy, there is no right or wrong - get over it.

          Any company who create something to help people with disabilities should be applauded not derided for reasons of personal hatred.

          For me, Id like to see a keyboard that sends a mild (or not so) electric shock when it detects someone typing M$ or MICROSHAFT). Yes, I'm intolerant of the intolerant.

          And once again, before it starts, I use Windows at work, Linux and Windows at home, and an old Vax with VMS for nostalgia reasons so most certainly not a Linux or other O/S hater.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

            Oh, I forgot

            Also an OS/2 PC in the loft, a Vic 20 and an Oric Atmos as well as a DOS based IBM AT, and a Windows 1. something IBM PS/2 model 20 (but as the floppy with the ADF files is long past its sell by date I don't think that one will live again).

      2. Lysenko

        Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

        When the PC refuses to boot because it detects a lens cap I'll get exercised about this (my main PC doesn't even have a camera. Or speakers).

        Until then I would be way more concerned about iOS/Android camera and microphone shenanigans. Those you can't just unplug.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

      >Tobii's Eye Gaze technology is already well-established in the world of Special Needs: many UK special schools have a Tobii system somewhere, and my own child uses one most days.

      Yep - though many more are using SMI units in school - resold as MyGaze etc - interesting development on Tobii's part as they have always charged outrageous prices when the application was assistive tech. The 4C unit was originally aimed at gaming, which has fallen flat, so really cheap (<£150) currently - it's also rather better and less hoggy CPU-wise than the wholly software based trackers and older generation devices Tobii have been (and still are) charging £1000s for.

      Definitely looks like the end of a significant gravy train which has left most potential users well and truly priced out of access. To make a real difference MS need to open up to other manufacturers and non-standard pointing devices like head tracking camera mice - unless Tobii are about to cash out completely on the back of this, it doesn't seem likely.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: As always, it's a balance between benefit and risk

      Can't believe you got downvotes for pointing out that assistive tech has benefits. It would seem that some people just hear about a new feature in Windows and can't help hating.

      To the down-voters: just because a particular technology can be abused, and just because this particular company's recent track record suggests that it *will* be abused, doesn't mean the technology is bad. Maybe one of your nice Linux devs will think it is a good idea and port it (without the spying aspect) to Linux, and then we'll have better PCs.

  9. g00se
    WTF?

    Got a date for thought-tracking yet?

    The tech, called Eye Control, will help lesser-abled individuals – such as those affected by motor neuron diseases – use computers without a mouse and keyboard.

    Yeah right. That's so totally their motivation, to help that massive number of people with that unfortunate condition isn't it? WTF are they going to be tracking next? Professor Hawking, please denounce this in no uncertain terms!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got a date for thought-tracking yet?

      >Professor Hawking, please denounce this in no uncertain terms!

      Why on Earth would he - he's using MS SwiftKey which is likewise laced with such metrics anyway (although the OSS ACAT is Presage based before some smart aleck points that out).

      ....also - and pardon the recursion - Hawking is like Hitler in Godwin's Law of AAC/AT discussion.

  10. J J Carter Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    What's the pr0n angle?

    "Where should I touch myself, big boy?"

    "Right where I'm looking, pet! Hubba, hubba - w00t!"

    1. ashdav
      Thumb Down

      Re: What's the pr0n angle?

      @ JJ Carter

      Why do you bother?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: What's the pr0n angle?

        "Why do you bother?"

        because it's FUNNY in a prurient kinda way?

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: What's the pr0n angle?

        "Why do you bother?"

        The pron industry has driven technology a great deal and I suspect they will find an angle to monetise this in some way, so I guess JJ Carter is just supporting innovation in his own way.

        Look at a part to zoom in etc.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gentle privacy reminder

    If your PC or non-phone device has a front-facing camera or microphone:

    1) Put black tape on the front-facing camera.

    2) Put a dummy plug into your 3.5mm microphone jack.

    1. Ripper38
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Gentle privacy reminder

      @A/C....

      1) Put black tape on the front-facing camera.... check!

      2) Put a dummy plug into your 3.5mm microphone jack... Uh oh! Haven't had one of those in years.

  12. Tsurotu

    Ooooh, I smell gaming/AR opportunities...

    I wonder if this means that the NaturalPoint tech or openTrack API will eventually be integrated, or will be allowed access to this tech?

    You can all bleat on about privacy if you want, I'm hoping to get rid of my TrackIR...

    Also, is this possibly some natural happy byproduct from the hololens too?

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Ooooh, I smell gaming/AR opportunities...

      It might be a way to optimise VR graphics systems.

      If you know where someone is looking, render that part of the image at high quality, and render parts of the image in their peripheral vision with less detail. It would probably have to be very accurate and very responsive though to stop users getting nauseous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ooooh, I smell gaming/AR opportunities...

        >It might be a way to optimise VR graphics systems.

        It is - Foveated Rendering - it's why Facebook bought The Eye Tribe and Apple bought SMI - Tobii were a little late to this particular game though despite holding the biggest chunk of eye gaze related IP otherwise.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Ooooh, I smell gaming/AR opportunities...

          Damn - every time I invent something, someone else has got there first!

  13. szydej

    WebCam EyeTracking for Windows

    Chceck out GazePointer WebCam Eye-Tracking for Windows https://sourceforge.net/projects/gazepointer/

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