Tobii announces an array of new eye-tracking initiatives for 2017

tobii eye tracker
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Eye tracking is a burgeoning field, and Tobii is at the forefront. The Silicon Valley startup has teamed up with some of the biggest names in consumer electronics to integrate its infrared iris tech into video games, smartphone applications, and even operating systems. And at the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show, it gave a holistic update on its latest plans and ambitions.

For the uninitiated, Tobii’s eye-tracking system, currently in its sixth generation, relies on a custom-designed processor for dedicated processing. It crunches numbers generated by a proprietary EyeCore algorithm, which in turn draws data from an array of infrared illuminators that track a user’s head position, eye gaze, and movements. It’s impressively capable — Tobii’s sensors work regardless of physical attributes like glasses and contact lenses. And it supports features beyond basic biometrics, like Microsoft’s Windows Hello login.

“Founded over 15 years ago with the vision of an eye tracker in every computer, we’re very happy to bring our tech to a wider array of consumer markets and continue our position as the clear market leader,” Tobii president Oscar Werner said in a statement. “If 2016 was an indicator of the growing interest in eye tracking, it’s only the beginning.”


During a press event Tuesday, Acer announced the world’s first general-purpose laptop with integrated eye tracking: The Acer V 17 Nitro. It’s enabled, naturally, by Tobii’s technology, which delivers functionality like app switching and automatic scrolling. Another feature, “Touch at Gaze,” moves the mouse pointer in the direction of the users’ pupils.


In December, Huwei introduced the first smartphone to integrate Tobii’s eye-tracking technology: The HTC Magic. It leverage’s Tobii’s EyeCore algorithms and an infrared camera to track a the user’s “presence” and “attention” — Tobii sees the tech used to gain greater insight in user’s intentions in order to better accommodate their actions. To that end, the firm is “exploring additional applications and use cases for eye tracking in smartphones,” according to a press release.

PC Gaming

Video games have proven to be one of the most successful applications of Tobii’s eye-tracking tech, and at CES, the firm demoed two new additions to a growing roster: Rise of the Tomb Raider and Dying Light. The additions put the expanding library of Tobii-supported games at just over 45, a number which the company expects to grow to more than 100 by the end of next year.

The announcement follows on the heels of integrations earlier this year. Tobii announced support for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Tom Clancy’s The Division in January. And in November, Tobii teamed up with developer Ubisoft to provide eye-tracking support in Watch Dogs 2 and Steep on PC. In Watch Dogs 2, players can move in one direction using a controller or mouse-keyboard combo and look in another direction to interact with a hackable object, and in Steep, head-tracking provides gaze-enabled interactions.

Tobii’s sensors are available in a growing number of gaming form factors, the company reiterated. They’re available as stand-alone peripherals in the EyeX, Eye Tracker 4C, and SteelSeries Sentry; in gaming notebooks like the Alienware 17, Predator 21X, and MSI GT72; and in monitors such as the Predator Z271T, XB251HQT, and XB271HUT.

Virtual Reality

Eye tracking’s serious business in the virtual reality realm. Facebook recently acquired iris-tracking specialists The Eye Tribe. Google purchased EyeFluence. And FOVE, a VR headset with eye-tracking tech, went on sale earlier this year.

A lot of the rush has to do with foveated rendering, a relatively new rendering technique that promises to reduce the processing power required for VR experiences. Instead of generating the entire environment surrounding the headset wearer, foveated rendering engines generate only visible elements — determined, of course, by the tracked direction of the wearer’s gaze.

Tobii didn’t have any concrete news to share on that front, but said it has an “in-house VR R&D team” hard at work on future products. In late December, the company announced plans to invested $50 million in its own large-scale VR and smartphone initiatives.

“With over eight years of wearable eye tracking expertise […] and the world’s largest eye-tracking patent portfolio, Tobii has both the technological acumen and operational flexibility to deliver industry leading innovations for VR,” a company spokesperson said.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Focus Plus makes it easier for developers to port PC content

HTC Vive has announced the Vive Focus Plus headset. The upgraded stand-alone headset makes use of "six degrees of freedom" support in controllers for a PC-like virtual reality experience.
Product Review

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phones are its most refined yet. Be prepared to pay up

Samsung has unveiled its lineup for its most popular smartphones, and it includes the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. The two flagship phones boast hole-punch cameras, fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, and beefier batteries.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

Samsung Galaxy S10 optimizations make it great for Fortnite

Samsung's new line of Galaxy S10 devices have been optimized for gaming. All three offer improved support for the Unity engine and the S10 Plus also offers vapor chamber cooling, similar to the Xbox One X.

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.
Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…

Google’s radical Gmail redesign is finally rolling out on Android

Google is slowly but surely giving its apps a refresh, modernizing them and ensuring that they're easy to use. The latest app to get a redesign is the Gmail app for Android, which has been redesigned with a few tweaks.

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Health & Fitness

Nike’s Android app is bricking its $350 Adapt BB self-lacing shoes

A firmware update for Nike's new self-lacing Adapt BB shoe appears to be bricking the $350 footwear for some owners. Android users have said the Nike app no longer pairs with the shoe, rendering the tightening mechanism useless.

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.