Microsoft, Tobii, and others collaborate on USB standard for eye tracking

Eye tracking technology is one step closer to being as easy to use as a mouse or keyboard. Tobii, a company known for its eye-tracking camera technology that can be added to a PC and is even included in some, has announced that a USB standard has been established for eye trackers.

The new USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard is part of a collaboration between Tobii, Microsoft, Intel, and EyeTech DS. With a standard established, eye tracking tech joins other accessories like mice, keyboards, and touchpads, that all operate off of a baseline protocol. That's big news for the whole industry, as eye trackers won't require specialized drivers to work. Rather, like your mouse, eye trackers will eventually be able to operate on a plug-and-play basis with the assistance of a generic driver provided by the OS manufacturer.

"This is great news for many reasons, not just for Tobii but for the entire eye tracking industry, users and developers," Tobii says. "Essentially, this is a giant leap towards making eye tracking a standard control mechanism for consumer electronics, enabling more robust and widespread adoption of eye tracking technology across a wide range of devices and applications."

Microsoft has been making strides in adopting more accessibility features in Windows, with eye tracking among them. Starting with the Fall Creators Update, the company began integrating eye tracking with the OS itself. With a USB standard established, eye tracking is closer to becoming more widespread across devices. That's not only a boon for accessibility reasons, but for new modes of interactivity as well.

Tobii wants you to control your PC with just your eyes and we show you how

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl