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Tobii eyeX review: The 'eye mouse' is magical, but just not for everyone

Mark Hachman | Feb. 18, 2016
This is a case where we love the technology more than the product.

Once mounted, the Windows 10-compatible software checks for any firmware updates, then guides you through a brief setup process where you’re asked to gaze at several dots in the corners of the screen. (You have the option of letting the eyeX track either eye, or both, to compensate for amblyopia or other conditions.) Tobii will also show you where it thinks your eyes are looking as part of this configuration process, giving you the first clue of how accurate the Tobii eyeX is. All of this information is saved to a profile file on your computer.  

Tobii’s configuration software lets you see where Tobii thinks your eyes are looking: the pink dots near the center of the screen.

Don’t feel like you need to sit like a statue to use the eyeX, either; the sensor bar will track your eyes as you move around. Technically, the sensor will always track you within a 16 x 12-inch “headbox,” between 13 and 37 inches away from the screen—which, chances are, is where your head is normally.

An eye mouse and more

Tobii claims that you should buy the eyeX for two reasons: as a general input device for your computer, and as a gaming peripheral. We tried both. A third selling point—to add Windows Hello capabilities to your computer—was added as we began testing, and we can confirm that feature also works.

You might think of the eyeX as an “eye mouse,” but there’s more to it than just that. Once calibrated, the eyeX allows you to assign a keyboard key as a mouse button, so that you can look at a spot on the screen, click the key, and—zip!— your cursor teleports there. (You can tell the eyeX to automatically “click” that spot as well, if you want.) You can also “clone” your mouse, warping it back and forth between two points—useful if you're jumping back and forth between two pages of text, perhaps.

Tobii’s eyeX software streamlines some of the more common Windows tasks.

Presence is also supported: You can configure the eyeX to dim your screen or lock your PC when your eyes aren’t detected, while Windows Hello will log you back in.

You can’t be sure how it will work for you

So how accurate is the eyeX? Officially, Tobii admits it doesn’t know. But Tobii president Oscar Werner told me the eyeX is generally accurate to about 0.5 to 1 degree of arc, or about a centimeter or so of deviation on a laptop screen. The idea, he said, is that users will jump the cursor to the general area, then use the touchpad for fine-tuning—which, in my mind, partially defeats the purpose for buying it in the first place.

 

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