Technology is constantly changing and improving the way we handle our day to day activities. Our lives have been impacted by the new and exciting changes that technology has made, things that once seem impossible now are possible thanks to new and innovative technology being made.
Since 2001 one company that has been pushing the technology revolution is Tobii. Starting as a small Swedish startup company, they have become the world leader in eye tracking technology. We got the opportunity to speak with Anders Olsson, VP of Software Partnerships and talk to him about how Tobii’s eye tracking technology works, and a few other things about the industry.
UEGamewire: “Thank you for taking the time out to talk to us. Tell us a little about Tobii and what do you guys do there?”
Anders Olsson: “Tobii is the global leader in eye tracking a technology that lets a device, such as a laptop or tablet, know where the user is looking in real time. Tobii researches, manufacturers, and designs its own eye trackers for use in several different fields including assistive technology, research, and gaming. Tobii both manufactures its own devices such as the Tobii I-Series communication device as well as integrates its technology into partner products, such as the recently announced Alienware 17gaming notebook.”
UEGamewire: “That’s interesting. So tell me how did the company get started into making eye tracking technology?”
Anders Olsson: “Tobii started out of a project at KTH- The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, by one of our founders, John Elvesjo as he was developing a device that could track bubbles in a suspension about 16 years ago. While developing the product he turned the tracking device he made towards his eyes and realized that the device could pick up on his eyes as well with fairly accurate trackability. This is when the “A-Ha!” moment occured. John then teamed up with Marten Skogo and Henrik Eskilsson and Tobii was born with the vision of an eye tracker in every computer.”
UEGamewire: “Your company’s technology focuses on helping people with disabilities. Do you think the demand will continue to grow to be used in more hospitals and rehabilitation centers?”
Anders Olsson: “Yes, we do. The primary challenge we face in the assistive technology market is awareness. Many of our users and their family members are unaware of the technologies, like eye tracking, that exist to them. Tobii works with many of the major medical centers in the US and Europe, including the top rehab “model centers” of excellence, to further the awareness of the technology and its numerous benefits in providing users a greater quality of life and greater independence. Our assistive technology division, Tobii Dynavox, provides a wide array of assistive technology and special education resources for numerous communities including ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Rett Syndrome, Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Aphasia and Stroke.”
UEGamewire: “Hopefully as the demand continues to grow, more and more companies will use your technology to help those who are disabled. Can you tell us about some of the products your company makes like the Pro Glasses 2 and Eye X controller?”
Anders Olsson: “Glasses 2 is a research based eye tracking device from our research business unit, Tobii Pro. These wearable eye tracking glasses allow researchers to perform atmospheric studies in real life environments to test merchandising, package design, usability and even design. The eye tracking platform that supports Glasses 2 is comprised of the world’s smallest eye tracking cameras, lending themselves to easy integration into future VR and AR devices.
The Tobii Eye X controller is a peripheral eye tracker that connects to any standard Windows based laptop or monitor. With the Eye X, gamers can experience entirely new levels of immersion in PC games. Tobii Tech, the third business unit of Tobii is heavily focused in the gaming space and is working with game developers all over the world to integrate eye tracking into even more titles. Currently, gamers have access to a rapidly growing library of eye tracking enabled games including titles like Tom Clancy’s The Division, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Tobii expects to have over 100 eye tracking enabled titles by the end of 2017. The Tobii Eye X can be purchased for $139 at http://www.tobiigaming.com.
UEGamewire: “We see popular titles such as Assassins Creed Syndicate, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and the upcoming Watchdogs 2 game now integrating your company’s eye tracking technology into their games. Do you see more game developers using eye tracking in their games as time goes on?”
Anders Olsson: “Definitely. As I mentioned, Tobii is heavily focused in the PC gaming space and we are working with game devs and studios all over the world to explore how their games can benefit from eye tracking and enhance immersion for their players. Right now, as we start to explore the space and gain traction, we work very closely with game devs, but we also have a wide array of dev tools for them to get started with eye tracking exploration and development on their own. Additionally, we have the “Boost to the Big Time” Accelerator Program, that provides development and marketing support for those games that integrate eye tracking. Additionally, Tobii often purchases game keys of the final games from the dev or studio for its own marketing activities, providing a cash incentive to the studio as well. Those interested can learn more at: http://www.tobii.com/boost.”
UEGamewire: “Recently Acer and Alienware just announced they’re making new game monitors and notebooks that feature your company’s eye tracking tech. Do you think we’ll ever see eye tracking make its way to gaming consoles, Tv sets, etc?”
Anders Olsson: “There is a very different use case for eye tracking in console gaming environments vs PC gaming environments. For instance, with PC gaming, you are situated fairly close to the screen and have a very small chance of anything obstructing the view of the gamer’s eyes from the eye tracker. Since it’s critical we track in real-time, especially in fast paced games, the eye tracker must have an unobstructed view of the user’s eyes at all times. With a console environment, the Tv or screen the user is engaged with is typically a few feet away, opening up the opportunity to obstruct the view and create a poor user experience. While you can track and select approximate targets at such a distance, a quality implementation is still needed to ensure a comfortable gaming environment. Tobii is exploring all opportunities in gaming, including console, but right now we are heavily focused in the PC gaming space.”
UEGamewire: “Lastly, what can we look for in the future from Tobii?”
Anders Olsson: “In the immediate term, you can expect to see a lot more eye tracking enhanced titles coming out as that is our primary focus. However, Tobii is invested in research projects across numerous different areas including gaming, mobile devices, automotive and VR. With the completion of Tobii EyeChip earlier this year, Tobii’s world class tech is now at a level of sophistication and robustness that lends itself well to integration in consumer devices and products, broadening our ability to bring more eye tracking content and products to consumers in the future.”
UEGamewire: “Well Anders Olsson, I would like to thank you for providing us with information on your company Tobii, and all the products and the research being done to push the eye tracking technology forward. For those who may not have known about eye tracking you have definitely provided a lot of information to help people learn more about Tobii and all the technology they make. We look forward to seeing all that Tobii has to offer.”
For more information on Tobii and their eye tracking technology and all their products, please visit Tobii.com