This week heralds the return of the Electronic Entertainment Expo AKA E3, North America's yearly homage to all things gaming. New title announcements are always the understandable focus, but recently hardware manufacturers have begun to time the reveal or release of new products with these major gaming expo events event; this is especially the case with NA-based companies who don't have to travel half way around the world to be in the eye of the publicity storm. Such is the case this year with SteelSeries and the innovative Sentry Eye Tracker.
SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker
Designed in concert with Tobii Technology - a world leader in eye tracking technology - the Sentry at its core is designed to analyse the movements of the eye and represent the data collected in a manner which is easily understood. As well as providing angular information which details where the eye is looking on the screen at any point in time, the Sentry also collates a new metric SteelSeries are dubbing 'Fixation per Minute' (FPM). A rough analogue to the well understood Actions Per Minute (APM), FPM records how often the player changes focus to another part of the screen, often for only a fraction of a second.
Images released to the press show a discrete black unit which sits statically under a monitor, angled slightly upwards. Either one or two cameras (the images don't make it clear) focus on and track eye movement, probably using its absolute location and known monitor dimensions to accurately extrapolate where on the screen your vision is focussed. Depending on the amount of data processed it's possible that an on-board processor deals with it in real-time, otherwise it's likely to use CPU resources and a USB interface to shunt data.
FPM analysis is very much in its infancy and SteelSeries will be partnering with professional gamers to analyse patterns and generate a series of performance benchmarks. By utilising these benchmarks other gamers will find the Sentry to be an invaluable coaching tool, allowing straightforward FPM and focus points comparison not only to improve their own gameplay but also gain a deeper understanding of why the info is so important.
Chief Gaming Officer and former captain of Team Fnatic, Patrik ‘cArn’ Sättermon, said, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve, even if its improvement at a granular level, that will sometimes be the difference between death and victory. Our players are incredibly motivated to not only use the Sentry Eye Tracker for their own gaming, but to be able to create standards that other players can measure their progress against.”
The Sentry, As A Controller
SteelSeries aren't pinpointing the coaching of nascent eSports gamers alone in the Sentry's functionality. Both they and Tobii are in the long-term looking at the viability of eye movements as controller inputs, in the same way that a mouse click or keyboard input would be. Depending on the level of accuracy SteelSeries and Tobii can realise from the Sentry it could be an enormously powerful yet subtle input device for a raft of games and productivity applications.
One application already earmarked for Sentry support is Overwolf's gaming overlay software. It will provide gamers with instant in-game access to their social media channels and the web whilst also enabling media streaming and sharing. Other developers are in the pipeline with more announcements to follow.
Sadly the SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker isn't quite ready for retail just yet. Both hardware and software will be available later this year, and those interested should regularly check back at http://steelseries.com/sentry for product updates and videos. We'll also try and bring you more information as we find it; this one has our interest piqued.
Source: Via Press Release