- Henrik Eskilsson
- June 7, 2019 | 5 min
Don’t Blink: Eye Tracking is Coming
Occasionally, there are weeks that are special — weeks when things crystalize and a new picture of where a technology is going emerges. For Tobii, and eye tracking, last week was such a week.
For the last 18 months, Tobii has consistently repeated two important key messages to our partners, to our customers, and to our investors:
#1 — User sensing technologies such as eye tracking enable better devices and better user experiences across a wide variety of platforms.
#2 — Tobii believes that technologies such as eye tracking are foundational for both personal computing and extended reality because they make devices more intuitive and interactions more natural.
Last week, three of the world’s most important technology companies all made separate and very different announcements about the ways that Tobii’s eye tracking technology is core to some of their most ambitious products and visionary initiatives.
This is an important moment for Tobii and I want to quickly review what was announced and talk about what it means.
Last Tuesday, at Computex, Alienware (Dell’s high-performance gaming brand) announced the integration of Tobii’s IS5 eye tracking technology into what they are calling their thinnest and most innovative designs ever, the new m15 and m17 gaming notebooks. When considered with Tobii’s news from CES 2019 that eye tracking is integrated into Alienware’s flagship Area-51m, it means that Tobii technology is now available across the entire 2019 family of Alienware’s next generation gaming laptops.
Also, on Tuesday, an embargo lifted on Intel’s concept designs for what the future of gaming laptops will look like. The new designs have generated a wave of coverage and excitement, and one of the most important features on display in these concepts is (of course) Tobii eye tracking, enabling users to switch between concept-defining dual screens with just a glance. Use cases like these illustrate how eye tracking is poised to be integral to how people use and interact with computers.
Additionally, at Computex, Intel lifted the veil on Project Athena, an initiative that will shape the future of computing over the next several years, pushing OEMS to create more powerful and more power-efficient laptop computers. Once again, Tobii’s technology is a key piece of making the vision for Athena reality. In 2011, when Intel announced the Ultrabook concept, it drove significant evolution in the PC marketplace. If something similar happens with Athena, the future looks bright.
Next, on Wednesday morning at AWE, our partner Qualcomm announced a new XR reference design for a smart viewer that incorporates their latest chipset and platform for AR and VR, and enables OEMs to take inspiration from the design as they create a new generation of head mounted displays (HMDs). Again, Tobii eye tracking is a foundational part of the design, which is critically important because this reference design has the potential to influence future products from many OEMs currently planning HMD products.
Dell, Intel, and Qualcomm, all announcing products and concepts that will shape both the PC and XR marketplace for years to come, all featuring Tobii eye tracking, all coming in the same week. It is extraordinary. But there is more.
Earlier in May, we marked the launch of the HTC Vive Pro Eye, the leading professional HMD on the market and the first to incorporate Tobii eye tracking.
Tobii also started a series of posts talking about how eye tracking is being used to fuel innovation in healthcare and industrial applications. In our first post we focus on our customer ControlRad, and the extraordinary way they are using eye tracking to make procedures that require continuous use of X-rays safer for both patients and surgeons.
In fact, even Microsoft and Sony are talking about eye tracking, and gaze, as essential components of upcoming operating systems and virtual reality products. In a recent blog post, Microsoft specifically mentions gaze as one of the key control modalities that users should have access to in a modern operating system.
Separately, Dominic Mallinson, SVP of Research & Development at Sony Interactive Entertainment, also recently called out gaze and eye tracking as some of most important and exciting features that will come to VR in the future, improving the capabilities of hardware with foveated rendering and enabling a better overall experience for the user.
So, what does this all mean?
This is the first blog entry I’ve written for Tobii, and I’m writing it to emphasize to Tobii’s partners, customers, and investors that eye tracking is a foundational technology that is evolving the way that people interact with and experience personal computers, extended reality, and a long list of additional highly-innovative and highly-specialized devices and applications.
For everyone else — consumers and enterprises, visionaries and journalists, this technology is coming to the devices you use, and the devices you will use, every day. You don’t have to take our word for it (just do a search for Tobii and eye tracking over the last month and make your own conclusions) — but you should know it is coming and you should get ready.