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Proof that Microsoft's Windows eye-tracking tech works: This article was written with it

With the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview, Microsoft is beta testing a new technology that allows users to control their PCs with just their eyes, using third party hardware from Tobii (opens in new tab). This technology is being built to help those who may not be able to move as freely as others, and as such find it hard to use everyday PC peripherals such as mice and keyboards.

The new eye-tracking technology, which should launch with the Fall Creators Update later this year, gives users the ability to interact with their PCs using just their eyeballs.

Microsoft has built a new virtual keyboard that's designed specifically for eyes, that when glanced at, will activate the letters you choose. Microsoft also built its Shape Writing feature into the eye-tracking keyboard, which means users just have to glance over all the words they wish to type, and the keyboard, using autocorrect, should be able to determine what it is you are saying, just like on a smartphone.

A keyboard for your eyeballs

And that's exactly what I used to type this article. I'm putting the eyeball keyboard through its paces, and so far it appears to be holding up pretty well, minus a few hiccups.

The keyboard is really big, meaning your eyes have a lot of room to move around and accurately look at an element on-screen. Sometimes the eye tracker itself may mistake my eyes for looking slightly to the left or right, but outside of that, the keyboard appears to be rock solid.

I'm currently using the keyboard with Shape Writing on, which is a lot faster than using it without. When Shape Writing is off, you have to stare at the letter you wish to insert for a couple of seconds before the letter is inserted. With Shape Writing on, you just have to glance your way through all the letters of a word, and the keyboard will form that word for you. It's much faster overall, but it's still pretty slow in comparison to a normal keyboard experience.

Up to this point, I've written 423 words, and it's taken me about 13 minutes. That's after a bit of practice. On a normal keyboard, I can spew out 423 words in about 3 minutes, so it takes a bit longer, but that's not much of a surprise. I imagine someone that uses this all the time will be able to type much faster. It's still an amazing piece of technology.

It's also worth noting that since this is still in beta, there is room for improvement. I noticed the keyboard will sometimes not insert a word after spelling it out, and a lot of the time the Shape Writing will incorrectly guess a word. But for a first beta, this technology is impressive.

This new feature is going to help so many people who are unable to use PCs in a conventional way. People who may be paralyzed from the neck down, amputees, and those who suffer from Parkinson's Disease will benefit greatly from this new technology.

If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, make sure you're a part of the Windows Insider Program and running the latest build, and grab yourself the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C ($150) (opens in new tab) to get the eye tracking function to work.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

44 Comments
  • Amazing
  • When will it be released for iOS and Android?
  • LOL
  • Yes! "Coming soon to iOS and Android".  
  • When? First.. Lol. No that's an irrelevant question. This is part of W10.
  • Better than the keyboard in W10M.... Man, WP8.5 had a good keyboard.. What happened?
    ..............
    Also, I see the as the new form of input, in the future, for everyone.
    For one main reason; Cleanliness.
    This technology eliminates the transfer of bacteria. I can see this being used in hospitals, at libraries, atm machines, amusement parks, airports, anywhere at work, or in the public where someone might use a touch screen that others use... Think of those touch screen soda machines at fast food restaurants.. You wash your hands, get your food, touch that screen hundreds of people a day touch, and eat your food with your hands... Yeah, this has way more practical usages than people might think, and might replace touch screens, the way touch screens replaced physical keyboards on many devices..
    But, MS must let the world know that APPLE DIDN'T PIONEER IT!! SMDH 🙄🙄🙄
  • No.
  • Switching to Android last week, i had to try 10 different keyboards to find one that comes even close to the Win10 experience. Surprisingly enough, it's the blackberry keyboard
  • Is this an old government technology that is now coming to consumer sector by Microsoft?!
  • You must have watch a lot of sci-fi movies lately.
  • This technology paired with A/R visors / glasses CAN be the next revolution in mobile. Will Microsoft take advantage???
  • Now that would be a massive failure.
  • What???
  • For people with Nystagmus, this technology will not work. Speaking from experience, even the iris scanner is a pain for people with Nystagmus, and albinism.
  • This may be true and any iris or eye-tracking software may have trouble with this.  As this is relatively new technology, I am sure it will improve over time.   Eye-tracking, however, is quite different to iris scanning as it does not have to recognise the pattern of the iris, only track the movement of the eye, so you may find that eye-tracking technology actually works a lot better than you may think.   I would suggest give it a try, or at least seek medical advise, before blatently saying it will not work.
  • >have this in consumers hands At $180 USD, the Tobii 4C is kind of too expensive for mainstream adoption. Alternatively, an MIT research group is trying to provide eye tracking control for everyone using basic hardware (tablets, smartphones, webcams).
    They created a eye data crowdsourcing app that combines with deep learning. github/com/CSAILVision/GazeCapture >people who can type and use a mouse normally may see this as a gimmick, There's a YouTube video that shows a cool feature that most people can use: Tobii EyeX with Windows 10 – mouse warp on move
    youtube/SYwd9Lt1ve4?t=2m56s As soon as you move your mouse, your cursor teleports to where you’re looking.
    After the warp, the mouse overrides for a while so you can make the selection.
  • Yeah and wouldn't work for blind people either. :rolleyes
  • People at their finest: can't be thankful for something and instead keeps complaining. You do need to realize that this is not a witchery, but instead real hardwork right?
  • Wonderful tech Microsoft!
  • It just hurts my eyes thinkin about typing like that. that's pure crazy
  • Look up Jason Becker, it's the only way he can communicate. 
  • Lol... I was kinda thinking the same thing, but I'm sure you get used to it.
  • I just skimmed the video, super cool, and you may have said this but how are you clicking? Do you blink to click?
  • I think clicking is achieved via a longer glance at a button or area.
  • This long look appears to be the case as using it as a standard keyboard, you are required to stare at each letter for a couple of seconds for it to select the letter (which is equivalent to a click of the mouse or a tap on a touch screen).
  • What's the point when you can dictate text much faster. This is absolutely nonsense, unless you are deaf & dumb
  • & dumb
    then it should be right in your wheelhouse.
  • Bazzzzingggaaaahhhhh!!!🤣🤣🤣
  • UGh , this is for people who are paralyzed . You would combine this with dictation. This is more like a mouse for the eyes. Not everything can be controlled with dictation.
  • Or it's just freakliny hard. But think of it as a demo for things to come. Photo editing would be one of them. Photoshop Lasso just by looking at the object you like to mark.
  • you know Horvath. i hate when people are blind fan boys and they come in other fan related pages to make negative waves. why don't you go to the page you are actually a fan of, and waste your time with childish mobile OSs and instagram. when this tech comes out. i won't have to tire my arm with mouse to answer your gibberish. i will use my eyes. answering to selfish people is far easier in other words. maybe thats what makes you angry.
  • You might be retarded. There are many people that cannot type or speak. Look at Stephen Hawking or Jason Becker for the 2 most famous ones I can think of. Idiot.
  • There is a BIG point to this for people with movement and speech restrictions, and there are a lot of brilliant minds that feel trapped due to that.  This opens up a new way to communicate successfully for people with movement and speech restrictions.  It may be "nonsense" for someone who can type and use a mouse, but this technology means a lot more to people who do not have that ability.
  • Wonderful. Good job MS
  • astonishing. really worthy of great notice. i always use the onscreen keyboard with mouse. when the normal version comes out, me and little tobbi are going to have a conversation. :)
  • Well, I will admit I am impressed with this.  Hopefully Microsoft will have this in consumers hands and a bit of knowledge about its existence in the wild before Apple or Google copy it.  I can see some people who can type and use a mouse normally may see this as a gimmick, but the potential for people with severe movement restricitions and vocal restrictions is huge.  Think of Stephen Hawking.  Where would he be without the technology he uses to communicate?   Yes, I am excited as this opens a whole new realm of possibilities. Kudos to MS for working on this and getting it in the mainstream community. Someone else did say it, but this also could be the future of mobile communication.  I know that my eye movement is faster and more accurate than my fingers.  With a little practice I am sure I could type equally fast, if not faster, with my eyes. 
  • I am impressed with some people actually trolls around the technology for DISABLED people that can ONLY interacts with their eyes. Hey teolls, look up Steven Hawking, Jason Becker, Laralyzed people, or just watch the entire Ad.
  • Nice new accessibility feature, and having this capability cooked into the OS may encourage developers to support eye tracking in more games.
  • Something else for Apple to innovate...
  • This is nothing short of amazing. Well done Zac. Thanks the demo.
  • Will keep my 'eye' on this :P
  • Microsoft: Furutre-Orientated = A lot Progressive Apple: User-Orientated = A bit Conservative Samsung: Performance-Orientated
  • This is some awesome stuff, to all of those who are clearly scared their walled garden is under threat LOL, and i'm glad too, not anyone else's fault you've spent you hard earned cash buying into the "ecosystem" (another word for blue tooth, cases and apps), i wish this success, make the present mobile phone extinct
  • This be useful for Mixed Reality, this way you can type without having to look at your keyboard.