USB Standard Established for Eye Tracking

USB Standard Established for Eye Tracking

A new USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard has been approved for eye trackers as a result of work done by Tobii (as the submitting entity) in collaboration with Microsoft, Intel and EyeTech DS.

This is great news for many reasons, not just for Tobii but for the entire eye tracking industry, users and developers. 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.

In other words, eye tracking technology is joining the family of mice, keyboards, game controllers, digitizers, touchpads, and other mainstream devices that have standardized HID usages agreed on by USB.org.

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Eye trackers are on their way to becoming plug and play.

What is HID?

HID is an acronym for Human Interface Devices, a generic protocol to facilitate communication between a device and host in a computer system.

The generic part of the protocol enables an application to talk directly with the device without the need of vendor supplied device drivers. As a matter of fact, all major operating systems have built-in support for HIDs via a driver provided by the OS manufacturer, releasing the hardware vendor from the complex task of writing drivers.

When an compliant device is attached to a computer system, the operating system queries the device for what capabilities (called HID usages) it can support and maps those capabilities (functions) to operating system functions — or advertises those capabilities to applications running on the system.

How it works

The new standard establishes a new device usage page coupled with usage id’s which define data fields that can be delivered by an eye tracker and or head tracker.

In addition to standardizing the pure technical data fields, the standard also defines a minimum quality bar for eye trackers to guarantee that great interactive eye tracking scenarios can be created.

Why is it good for eye tracking users?

This is a great benefit for users since it enables operating systems to provide an in-box driver that works for eye trackers independently of who manufactured the device.

Having an industry standard specification for eye tracking gives consumers better predictability if a device is compatible with an operating system, game or application.

Developing high quality drivers and software is a complex task, a general driver provided by the OS manufacturer provides the ultimate stability.

What does it mean for the industry?

At the highest level, this is further confirmation of the increasing adoption and critical value that eye tracking delivers for general interactive use in computers, smartphones, head-mounted displays and other devices.

In addition, this enables opportunities for deeper integration with operating systems via an established interface that operating system-vendors and hardware integrators can rely on. As mentioned before, this is a big step towards accelerating the widespread adoption of eye tracking technology.

Developers can be confident that they can leverage and see return from their investments in adding eye tracking use cases into their software across a variety of different devices.

Device manufacturers can integrate eye tracking technology with increased confidence that there will be a rich eco-system of content available that utilizes the technology.

And ultimately, consumers can obtain a consistent plug-and-play experience that they can trust and recognize across different devices and applications.

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Tobii Gaming

Hi, we are a bunch of developers, QA Engineers, customer support, product managers, and more (mostly gamers) aiming to combine the wonder, competitiveness, and creativity of gaming with the technology of eye tracking. Over the past decade, we have built eye trackers to revolutionize the way we play, creating a vital tool for competitive gaming, and empowering a new generation of content creators, as well as their followers. We love to game, we love eye tracking.