After years of work, the newly-launched iPadOS 15 now supports eye-tracking accessories for physically disabled users. This feat was accomplished with help from Tobii Dynavox, an assistive technology company that’s now launching the TD Pilot, an eye-tracking and synthetic voice accessory for the iPad.
Tobii is one of the biggest names in eye-tracking technology. The company is best known for its assistive Windows accessories, which are primarily used by people with cerebral palsy, ALS, and other conditions or disabilities that impact fine motor skills.
But not all people want to use Windows, which is why the TD Pilot is such a big deal. It’s an iPad case that contains Tobii’s latest eye-tracking hardware (which should work in all lighting conditions), plus a rear-mounted speaker and display for text-to-speech software. (You can also use the speaker to blast music or other audio.)
Using the TD Pilot looks like a breeze. Your gaze controls an on-screen cursor that can open apps, interact with games, and even type on a keyboard. And thanks to dedicated Tobii apps like TD Talk and TD Snap, you can quickly write out text-to-speech messages using a virtual keyboard or small sentence-building cards. (TD Pilot also works with third-party synthetic voice apps.)
Outside of its core features, the TD Pilot features an extended battery for your iPad and mounting hardware for wheelchairs. It’s also water and dust-resistant, which will help your iPad survive a thunderstorm or shower.
The TD Pilot is now available with a prescription. It’s covered by several insurance companies, plus Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, the device could cost $10k without insurance, not including the price of an iPad.
Also, Tobii Dynavox suggests using the TD Pilot with a 12.2-inch iPad Pro, the most expensive device in Apple’s tablet lineup. The company claims that the iPad Pro’s big screen just works better with eye-tracking tech.