Lenovo unveils first eye-controlled laptop

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 March, 2011, 12:00am

Could the next hip tech item be named the eyePad?

Lenovo might have the answer after it teamed up with Swedish firm Tobii Technology to unveil the world's first eye-controlled laptop computer at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, this week.

The fully functional, prototype laptop uses eye-tracking technology developed by Tobii as an intuitive new way to point, select and scroll, complementing traditional control-and-input interfaces like the keyboard and mouse.

According to Tobii, eye control will make personal computer interaction more effective.

The CeBIT demonstration followed Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzi's promise last month 'to increase investment in brand building and product development'. A Lenovo spokesman in Beijing could not comment on the Tobii partnership when reached yesterday.

Those at the trade fair trying out the prototype, which has a 15-inch display and an integrated 300-hertz eye-tracking device from Tobii, were able to simply glance at an icon or application on-screen and more information was presented.

They could also zoom in on pictures or maps and automatically dim and brighten the screen.

Tobii described eye control as a way to speed up the ability of users, including those with physical disability, to switch between open windows and browse e-mails and documents.

Henrik Eskilsson, chief executive of Stockholm-based Tobii, said the prototype laptop proved the company's eye-tracking technology was 'mature enough to be used in standard computer interfaces'.

'To reach a state where the technology is part of the average computer, we need to make it smaller and cheaper,' Eskilsson said.

'We believe that this can be realised in a couple of years by partnering with the right manufacturer.'

He cited Lenovo, the world's fourth-largest personal computer supplier, as 'a great partner' with 'industry-leading expertise in computer manufacturing and hardware development'.

The first batch of 20 eye-controlled laptops built by Lenovo has been split evenly between Tobii and the mainland firm for further development and their respective demonstration programmes.

Tobii, which has operations in Suzhou, first demonstrated its eye-tracking technology on the mainland at last year's Shanghai World Expo.