Concerning the mobile platforms, there was the usual gamut of tablets and laptops, but we were a bit disappointed that Intel was not able to sneak a Skylake laptop into the display a few days before the official release.
The real gem hidden in the booth involved one of Intel’s co-op projects. While they had the latest edition of RealSense running, and it is admittedly continuing to improve, our focus was on an eye tracking project that got some attention earlier this year at Computex.
MSI, in cooperation with Intel and Tobii, will be releasing the updated GT72 Dominator sometime in December. The laptop features an eye-tracking system that has been in use in the medical field for quite some time, but it’ll get its first introduction to the PC gaming industry this holiday season. The demo model of the Tobii EyeX controller was embedded in the base of the laptop's display at a slight upward angle. Using Assassin's Creed: Rogue, the system tracked eye movement to change the camera direction, an action usually done by the mouse. A set of three near-infrared projectors created a reflection pattern on my eyes. Image sensors built into the same bar below the display then registered the projection patterns. Then, through image processing and mathematical modelling, the exact position of my eye and my gaze point were determined.
Simplified, the idea was to create a more natural interface to change the view, and for the most part, it worked. While controlling a camera with your eyes is fun and carries a cool novelty effect, it’s not a game changer. Some more intriguing ideas were passed our way by the Intel Gaming reps, and we also came up with one of our own. The first idea – closely related to the AC: Rogue example – would be to track eye movement for quicker map scrolling in MOBAs, where eye movement toward the direction of desire occurs already. Users could hypothetically glance at a section of the minimap to instantly jump there.
Another, more innovative thought is to use the system to log the data of gaming ability or efficiency. A pro gaming team could use the system to benchmark scores of reaction time to events on the screen and use those scores for personal improvement or to assess new potential talent. Witnessing the continued growth of professional gaming and the increasing difficulty in selecting the best talent, this could be a tool that would allow a team's management to objectively select the more physically and mentally talented players. A final fascinating proposed use would be to track eye movement to determine the most frequently viewed areas on screen – usability design. This data could be utilized to improve user interfaces to discover the best positioning for the most fluid and informative gameplay.
MSI will be the first to try this product on the market. We’ll wait readily to see if any of its potential is ever tapped.