Now, my rehab facility had access to one of the earlier Tobii eye tracking computer solutions but it was prohibitively expensive and not to the usual computer standards I am used to. Ringing in at about C$10,000. So once I knew about the Windows surface and the PC eye go, for total of about $3000 I was pushing my rehab facility pretty hard to get one for trial, which they recently did. And fortunately, I was the test case for it. As a matter of fact, I'm using it right now in conjunction with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I did try Windows speech recognition which is functional, but frustrating as this comprehension was not nearly as good.
|yeah, that hurt|
That said, broken arm and all I have to say I'm extremely pleased with the eye tracking experience. In particular I'm glad I had it on hand after the fall (see where they did there?) As without it I would've had zero computer access. Once I figured it out, it is very easy to keep calibrated. However I do have to point out it is very sensitive to changing lighting conditions. For example in the evening when the sun is setting and the lights in the house are going on. This can really wreck calibration. So as lighting conditions change you may have to frequently recalibrate. But, if you do this often enough as you start noticing changes in the precision. It's not that big of a deal. However if you wait too long, functionality can be completely lost, in my case I have to ask for help to push the on-screen buttons.
After calibration, there are two primary ways you use the eye tracking to interact. Via mouse emulation which I don't particularly like and gaze selection, which is awesome.
Mouse emulation actively tracks ways you working on the screen and moves the mouse cursor accordingly. This can be quite frustrating as they can be a little "drift" between where you are looking at where the cursor is. This results in chasing the mouse cursor across the screen. Needless to say, annoying. Secondly, to send a click you have to dwell where you want the click that happened. A.k.a. stare at it. Now as your eyes are always making slight movements, even when you think you are fixed on a particular location this can be just enough to prevent selection from happening. And then added to it the tendency to look at the cursor from problem number one… Again annoying.
That said, it does work and it does have its place.
I had a few issues with keyboard layout, just for my habits of typing and the tendency to want to do some programming/scripting but all in all it's very functional and very responsive. It is of course slower but if you're using it in conjunction with Dragon naturally speaking. Very pleasant experience. The eye tracking keyboard by itself is perfectly functional for shorter replies to e-mails, Facebook and twitter updates and so forth.
|Using VNC & eyetrack to remote|
connect to desktop to use Dragon
The second thing has to do with the built-in scroll tool. While it is perfectly functional, it is a little frustrating to use when scrolling through say and longer webpage. Use for example have to look at the bottom of the screen while, at the corner of your vision keeping an eye on the top of the screen to know when to stop scrolling. He really needs a page up/page down button. This is something that's also easy to solve with auto hotkey scripts, as a matter of fact, already written and tested.
I also tried plugging the tablet into my windows of seven desktop with a 22 inch monitor. The functionality was nearly identical with some changes due to Windows 8 Metro interface not being present. It was again extremely easy to set up and calibrate, and of course had been the much larger screen made selections extremely easy as I had much larger look targets.
All in all, I'm extremely pleased with the Windows surface to Pro tablet and a Toby eye tracking functionality. And, seeing as the fall has pretty much put an end to the use of my arms and hands in any functional sense for computer access. I am in the process of ordering one. I am however a bit undecided as to whether or not I want to order the Windows surface Pro three.
One thing to consider however is that on battery power the Windows surface 2 Pro with the eye tracking plugged in is only given me about 2 1/2 hours of power. Not that big of a deal, but you do have to keep it in mind.
Also, if you're anticipating the loss of the function of your hands. I would suggest it's worth acquiring the eye tracker (perhaps not the tablet right away) and becoming familiar with it earlier rather than being pushed in at the deep end. Before I broke my arm, I had a few occasions where it needed to interact with it manually. Particularly when I was learning about the calibration.