Tobii Eye Tracking: The Future of Immersive Gaming?
In the world of gaming, there is one universal goal that is shared by every sector of the industry. From publishers to developers, software programmers to hardware engineers, one word serves as a driving force: immersion. The industry is always looking for immersive experiences be it through narrative, gameplay, or platform. As new technologies are researched and developed the gaming industry inches ever closer to this goal. However while companies like Sony and Microsoft dive into virtual reality and motion control to deliver these experiences with questionable success, a new experience has hit the market and the irony is that it didn’t come from a company built around gaming.
Tobii AB is a company which develops eye tracking software and hardware for use in alternative communication, accessibility, special education, and studying human behaviour through eye movements. They have developed award winning devices that allow physically and verbally impaired individuals to communicate and have been a large player in the digital marketing world with devices that track what images attract the attention of their clients’ focus groups. However, they recently started developing products specifically for gamers under the name Tobii Technologies, Inc. These new devices take data from a player’s eye movements and translate them into popular games such as Digital Combat Simulator, Arma 3, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, making it so that the player does not need to look using their mouse; the device moves the camera at the direction of the player’s eyes.
Currently, Tobii offers two versions of their gaming eye tracker: the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C and the Tobii EyeX. The EyeX is the first version of their gaming eye tracker and it offers an impressive 60 Hz refresh rate and has a 40cm by 30cm headbox at a distance of 65cm despite being the company’s foray into the market. Currently, the Tobii EyeX has a retail price of $139 USD, and is on sale for $99 USD to make way for the newer model. This is a good value buy for those interested in trying this new technology, however the gamer looking to push the boundaries of this new technology will want to look at Eye Tracker 4C.
The 4C model not only includes the new Tobii EyeChip, which reduces data exchange, CPU load, and power consumption, but also includes a head tracker. For those familiar with the TrackIR brand, this is the next step up. The Tobii Eye Tracker 4C’s head tracking does not require infrared LEDs or a bulky (and unsightly) device strapped to the player’s head to obtain the same results. In conjunction with eye tracking this device can significantly increase the maximum degrees the player’s head can turn the camera in game. The Tobii Eye Tracker 4C has a 90 Hz refresh rate (a 40% increase from the Tobii EyeX) with the same headbox size. While the EyeX can provide a tactical advantage in games such as Digital Combat Simulator and Arma 3, the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C is clearly the superior device and will provide increased player awareness and a significant advantage to the player and his/her team over the comparatively less capable EyeX. For many gamers, this will more than make up for the $150 USD price tag.