Elite Dangerous: Eye Tracker 4C vs EyeX

Elite Dangerous: Eye Tracker 4C vs EyeX

The EyeX was our very first consumer grade eye tracker focused solely on the gaming market, fulfilling our original promise of a more immersive experience beyond just mouse and keyboard. With the lessons learned from the EyeX, our engineers set to work on the next generation of eye tracking — the IS4 platform. The biggest difference comes down to the EyeChip, our very own ASIC which takes care of all the signal processing — saving those precious cycles on your CPU to crank out a few extra frames.

One of the most frequent pieces of feedback we’d get comes down to the red LED illuminators present in the EyeX — some users found its shine distracting and even tiring in some cases. With the 4C, we moved away from the Backlight Assisted Near Infrared 650nm red light diodes to Near IR 850nm diodes — reducing the perceived light output significantly.

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To the left: the new Tobii Eye Tracker 4C. To the right: The Tobii EyeX

“One of the most frequent pieces of feedback we’d get comes down to the red LED illuminators present in the EyeX — some users found its shine distracting and even tiring in some cases.”

With the EyeChip, stress on the CPU is reduced from ~10% to ~1% while simultaneously lowering power consumption 4.5 watt to 1.5 watt. Further, the refresh rate is increased from 75hz to 90hz, theoretically allowing for smoother and more responsive tracking.

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Let’s not forget the biggest differentiation — the 4C comes with cordless, clip-free and frankly, hassle free head tracking. According to many, it is the best head tracking solution they have tried both in terms of accuracy and convenience. We’ve heard particularly great feedback from our Elite Dangerous players regarding the combination of eye tracking and head tracking into one package.

The video above is a collaboration with ObsidianAnt, who has experience with both the EyeX and the 4C. Here we can see the 4C in action in Elite Dangerous, with an overview of the improvements from the EyeX device to the 4C. Bear in mind, the video is from November, 2016, and features a pre-production version of the 4C.

Not only does the 4C provide more accurate eye tracking, but it also supports out of the box head tracking. Headset straps, reflective pads, or other mounts to use head tracking are a thing of the past.

Perhaps most importantly is the improvements to combat, especially but not limited to Elite Dangerous. With the older model, EyeX, there was no headtracking present, which meant that the responsiveness in space-combat was sometimes not nimble enough. The 4C has effectively removed the problem, and increased the aim and immersion while dogfighting above asteroids and moons. Where there were once issues with delayed movement of camera, the 4C adds head tracking without diminishing where your eyes go in the heat of battle. This means that when the enemy veers off suddenly, and your eyes snap to follow, the 4C intelligently moves with you at the very same second.

Mining in Elite Dangerous is a very manual process; the player must use a mining laser to chip off pieces of an asteroid, which are then scooped up or collected with a drone to be refined on-board. As time consuming as it can be, a miner with the right technique can make just as much money as they would in other professions. Since I am personally not huge on PvP in general, this is where the 4C shines for me. When floating through an asteroid belt, eye tracking coupled with head tracking lets you not only effortlessly gaze through potential goldmines to be, but it also lets you reference your cartographer in a jiffy.

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The Tobii Eye Tracker 4C

In general, no matter what your favorite pastime is in Elite Dangerous, head tracking really adds another layer of immersion and a convenience that is hard to really put a finger on. Head tracking for broad, rougher strokes, eye tracking for the small, detail oriented adjustments. Truly a match made in heav-… space.

We’d love to hear from you, whether you play Elite Dangerous on the EyeX, or the 4C. Tag us at @Tobiigaming with your favourite Elite Dangerous eye tracking moments.

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Tobii Gaming

Hi, we are a bunch of developers, QA Engineers, customer support, product managers, and more (mostly gamers) aiming to combine the wonder, competitiveness, and creativity of gaming with the technology of eye tracking. Over the past decade, we have built eye trackers to revolutionize the way we play, creating a vital tool for competitive gaming, and empowering a new generation of content creators, as well as their followers. We love to game, we love eye tracking.