Tobii EyeAsteroids puts a modern spin on classic arcade game
By Paul Ridden
November 16, 2011
When I was a good bit younger, I wasted far too much of my spare time blowing up wave after wave of space rocks - and the occasional flying saucer - trying to get to the flip-over. Atari's most successful game, Asteroids, has now been given a futuristic make-over by eye-tracking and eye control specialist Tobii, developers of the impressive laptop prototype and the stand-alone PCEye system for Windows PCs. Built as a free-standing arcade game, EyeAsteroids players use only their eyes to aim and fire a laser at flying rocks and save the world from impending pulverization.
In Tobii's updated version of Asteroids, the Earth itself is the player's avatar, as opposed to a simple triangular ship, and the game ends if our world sustains too much damage from collisions with missed targets and explodes. The developers say that the world's first eye-controlled arcade game offers a radically different gaming experience to using gamepads or motion controllers, with gameplay benefiting from much faster target location and obliteration than can ever be achieved using more familiar eye/hand coordination. Initial system testers report that there's no noticeable lag between making the decision to destroy and the target asteroid being blown into smaller and smaller pieces.
Housed within the arcade-type frame is a 22-inch, 1680 x 1050 pixel resolution HP LE2201W display supported by Philips SPA5300 sound box audio, and a Tobii IS-1-L Eye Tracker. The system runs on Windows 7 Professional edition, is powered by a Core 2 Quad Q8400 processor running at 2.66GHz, and features NVIDIA GF 405 graphics.
Tobii EyeAsteroids began its world tour at Dave & Buster's in New York's Times Square last week, and will see out the end of the month in London ahead of a CES 2012 outing in Las Vegas come January.
The arcade setup is available now for purchase by companies or individuals, although the US$15,000 per unit price tag would lean towards the former. Tobii says that production will be limited to just 50 units, but the game can also be set up for use with a standard computer - this option coming with a 22-inch monitor, Tobii eye tracker and game software.
Developer Frederik Lindh introduces EyeAsteroids in the following video, with a guest cameo from Darth Vader: