Even before CES 2012 officially opens its doors on Tuesday, this year's edition of the show in Las Vegas is already evidencing some novel uses of new and emerging operating systems (OS), including Tobii's Gaze "look and tap" user interface for Microsoft's Windows 8, along with Lenovo's K91SmartTV, the industry's first HDTV to run Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich").
On both scores, it seems as though CEA industry analyst Shawn DuBravac was right on target with Sunday's prediction of 2012 as "the year of the (user) interface. Gaze goes well beyond mouse- and trackball-driven UIs -- and even beyond voice and gesturing approaches -- to let you control a PC or tablet screen through your eye movements.
For its part, Lenovo's K91 TV is designed to use the natural language processing and speech recognition capabilities of Android 4.0 to let people cast aside their remote units in favor of voice control. Unlike Sony Internet TV, the k91 will not use Google TV. Lenovo's 55-inch Android TV will also feature flicker-free 3D technology, more than 100 built-in apps, and a 5 megapixel Webcam, for face recognition-based security.?
'Eye?control' UI to run across Windows 8 PCs and tablets
Actually, Tobii first announced Gaze in March of 2011, noted Anders Olsson, Tobii's business development manager, speaking with NotebookReview.com at the CES Unveiled press event on Sunday night, just following the CEA's pre-show presentation.
Gaze's first iteration, however, ran on Windows 7. To the contrary, the follow-on version rolled out at CES will take advantage of Windows 8's touch interface, plus the abilities of Microsoft's upcoming OS to run across both Intel x86 PCs and ARM-based tablets.
Gaze, however, is not entirely hands-free. Some use of the fingers is still required, as Olsson showed in a demo conducted on a Windows 8-enabled laptop.
"You use your eyes to point, and your fingers to control," Olsson continued. To open an application, for example, you first look at the app's icon on the screen. Then you tap the icon. To zoom in on an image, you first take a gander at the image with your eyes. Then you use a pinching motion with your hands to expand it.
Yet although Windows 8 is anticipated for availability later this year, don't expect Gaze to ready for consumer apps by then.
In November of last year, Tobii introduced a Gaze-based arcade game known as EyeAsteroids. Other than that, however, the first commerical apps for Gaze -- likely to be released at the end of 2012, or in early 2013 -- will probably come in industrial arenas like computer-aided design (CAD). Consumer apps should then follow in 2013 or 2014, said a Tobii rep, also during the demo.
Has Tobii been talking with Apple, too? "I really can't say," Olsson told NotebookReview.com.
Lenovo's Android TV won't be ready right away, either
Over in another corner at CES Unveiled, though, Lenovo -- now the world's leading TV maker beneath HP, after surpassing Dell in that space -- pulled a new trick out of its own hat with the K91SmartTV.
Built on top of Qualcomm's 8060 Snapdragon processor, the K91 looks likely to ultimately compete with Apple TV. Don'think either, though, that you'll be able to go out and buy a K91 very soon.
Lenovo's Android TV is set to ship in China before making its way to the US and other countries. Pricing and availability dates have yet to be announced.
At the pre-show event on Sunday, Lenovo also showed new IdeaTab S2-10 and K2 Android tablets, the S2 Android smartphone, and laptops such as the IdeaPad U310 and U410 and ThinkPad X1 Hybrid, a "dual personality" PC offering the ability to switch from full-featured Windows mode to power convervation-oriented Instant Media Mode operating on a second processor.
"But there's no Windows 8 for Lenovo tonight. Maybe tomorrow night," said a rep in the Lenovo booth, in reference to a press conference scheduled by Lenovo for later on Monday.
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