TD Pilot brings eye tracking to iPad
While Apple has plenty of accessibility features for people suffering from various disabilities—including VoiceOver for the visually impaired—it has yet to make its products accessible to people dealing with some form of paralysis, such as cerebral palsy or ALS.
To fill in this gap, a Swedish company by the name of Tobii Dynavox has created a new iPad accessory called TD Pilot, which allows users to control an iPad using only their eyes.
TD Pilot works with any iPad running iPadOS 15 or higher, and can be used to run essentially any app by tracking their precise eye movements using infrared sensors on the front. The device itself resembles something of a bulky, rugged iPad case that also features a screen on the back to display messages, allowing for easier communication with others in the room.
The TD Pilot also comes with boosted speakers and cameras, a wheelchair mount, and includes a text-to-speech app called TD Talk as part of the package.
This isn't Tobii's first foray into eye-tracking technology, not by a long shot. The company already has plenty of successful eye-tracking products in the past, but has focused on Windows-based devices up until now. It already sells assistive devices with eye-tracking for gaming computers as well as workstations, and has even fitted VR and AR headsets with eye tracking.
And while this is the first time that Tobii Dynavox is bringing this specific technology to iPad, it has already made other accessibility products for Apple's tablets in the past. "We already make iPad-based solutions where they basically control with joysticks and fingers, but up until very recently, eye tracking was not something you could do with an iPad or iPadOS," the company's CEO told CNET in a report.
"This probably won't be the holy grail for everyone," he added, "but the iPad does meet a lot of the requirements for a lot of people."