Tobii, Microsoft, and Eye Tech DS honored for advancements in accessibility

  • by Denny Rönngren
  • 2 min

FCC annual chairmans award 2018

In June of this year, I had the honor to attend a ceremony held in Arlington, VA, for the Federal Communications Commission’s annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancements in Accessibility.

At the ceremony, Tobii, Microsoft, and EyeTech DS received a shared award for our 2018 collaboration that culminated in the creation of a USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard for eye trackers, ultimately creating the possibility for Windows 10 to include built-in eye tracking experiences natively in the operating system.

The ratification of the HID standard represents a huge step forward in enabling more robust adoption of eye tracking technology across a wide range of device families and applications, and the Chairman’s award we received earlier this year recognizes how important the new standard will be for encouraging a rich ecosystem of developers to create new and innovative augmentative and alternative communication (ACC) applications. The standardization provides the framework by which operating systems can add gaze input as a new modality at the same level as mice, touchpads and pen digitizers.

The ratification of the HID standard creates a range of critical benefits for operating system manufacturers, application developers, device manufacturer and end-users, resulting in a consistent plug and play experience for eye tracking that everyone can trust and recognize.

At Tobii, I’ve played a key role leading the charge for coordination with other global technology companies in order to establish clear and open standards that:

  1. ensure a high-quality eye tracking experience

  2. provide a quick integration path for OS vendors and application developers

  3. enable a smooth and consistent experience for end users.

I firmly believe that industry standards for eye tracking, such as the USB HID standard, are essential for helping to drive widespread adoption across industries, devices, and use cases.

On a personal level, it was a profound experience to attend the ceremony and accept this significant award alongside some of the leading technology companies in the world.

The experience of working together on this important effort with key people at Microsoft has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our collaboration has been great from day one, and I’m truly amazed by how fast Microsoft has been able to leverage our joint work and build HID eye tracking support into Windows 10, paving the way for both in-box eye tracking experiences and developer eye-interaction APIs provided by the core operating system.

For the industry, now that we have shown that our blueprint works and that it is possible for operating systems to integrate eye tracking as a new modality, I’m very curious to see if this can be scaled further.

Finally, being at the ceremony and having the chance to talk with attendees who were asking questions and showing appreciation for Tobii’s eye tracking devices was very powerful. It makes me amazingly proud to work at a company like Tobii where we produce life-changing devices that give people a powerful voice in the world.

    Written by

    • Tobii employee

      Denny Rönngren

      Developer, Tobii

      I am a developer at Tobii with focuses on scaling eye tracking and spatial computing for the consumer mass-market. It is a broad role, with lots of interesting challenges and collaborations, from defining shapes of APIs that game engines use, developer outreach, to researching into new novel use cases for eye tracking. Personally, I am very excited about the future of XR, and what significance eye tracking play for use cases such as lifelike avatars, foveated rendering and interactions where gaze can create more intuitive and accessible interfaces. I work closely with industry tech partners and developers to drive widespread adoption of eye tracking early on in XR and PC, and also represent Tobii in Khronos OpenXR working group. Feel free to connect with me.

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