It appears to be Docomo’s (NYSE:DCM) habit in recent years of teasing its latest new tech just ahead of Japan’s CEATEC conference, the country’s answer to CES. Among the projects the company showed off today in Tokyo was ibeam, a tablet prototype which uses an embedded eye-tracking function from Sweden-based Tobii.
Docomo presented this as a user interface for a Fujitsu-made tablet today, and I was pretty pleasantly surprised with the results. Essentially the user just focuses their eyes on whatever item they wish to select on-screen, and the software recognizes this as user input.
Some functions were demonstrated today, including an intriguing pop-the-balloon game, where the user is tasked with focusing on popping balloons that float up the screen, but avoiding accidentally exploding bombs that will end your game. The controls were surprisingly accurate, and this was amazingly fun to play.
Users can also use the interface to scroll through a browser, turn pages of a book, or even highlight specific words to trigger a dictionary pop-up.
I initially thought that this solution would be an accessibility solution, targeting people with limited use of their hands or arms. But a Docomo representative tells me that this is something they think everyone could benefit from. The company notes in its announcement that persons who are standing on a train holding a strap, or carrying bags — such people could certainly benefit from such an interface when they don’t have both hands free for a conventional touch interface.
The ibeam tablet prototype will be on display at CEATEC in Tokyo from October 2nd-6th.