I’ve spent countless of hours in front of the computer screen throughout my life, and spending all that time has certainly made me quite efficient at using keyboard and mouse. Despite this, and even though my mouse speed is turned up to make even the smallest gesture move the mouse pointer quite a distance on the screen, I still find my self looking for the mouse pointer and feeling that it is a waste of time having to use the same input mechanism as I did thirty years ago.

Because of this, I’ve been looking at the products from the Swedish company Tobii for some time, but up until recently, their hardware has just been to expensive to get for experimenting with. If you’re not familiar with Tobii, they’re a company specializing in eye tracking devices, and as of March 2014, they’re delivering a consumer product that is – under the circumstances – pretty cheap.

Hacking time

With this sudden price drop, I decided to try out the hardware and ordered a REX developer kit, which I’ve been experimenting with for a while now. Not knowing what to expect from the hardware before hand, I was really amazed how accurate it was, but at the same time, I realized that the accuracy needed to control the windows graphical interface was even higher. To mitigate this, I did some programming and ended up with at solution in which I can zoom in and out on the screen using hand gestures with the Peregrine glove and thus making the perceived accuracy high enough to be useful.

The details

So, what did I actually do?

As you can see in the video above (which really explains things better than text – this is one of those “seeing is believing” things) the tracking points delivered by the Tobii hardware is rather noisy, even after calibration. As I stated earlier, it’s still pretty amazing that it can do what it does, but in order to make it practically usable, more was needed.

As this problem arose, I started thinking about how I could solve this, and since the main objective of the whole enterprise was to not having to move my hands away from the keyboard, I needed some clever solution. The Peregrine glove came to the rescue, and even though it is not perfect, it at least takes me where I need to be to get rid of the mouse.

The code for this project is not released yet (it’s in such a exploratory state that I would be ashamed to show it – haha), but if you’re interested, I’d be glad to share it with you – just drop me a line!