October 24, 2018 // 11:35 a.m.
Eye-tracking specialist Tobii has announced availability of its latest-generation hardware and software platform, IS5, with claims of massive improvements in hardware footprint, power draw, and tracking performance under 'difficult conditions.'
Eye-tracking camera technology, whether using generic webcams or specialised sensors, isn't particularly new, though its support in mainstream gaming rather than to power a somewhat-gimmicky glasses-free three-dimensional display only appeared over the last few years: Back in 2014 SteelSeries announced the Sentry, an accessory aimed at professional gamers as a training aid for tracking 'fixations per minute', while Assassin's Creed Rogue received support for adjusting the displayed image depending on where the player was looking a year later. More recently eye-tracking specialist Tobii has received interest from virtual reality platforms to help improve the visual fidelity at the centre of a user's vision even while glancing around the display, and its technology has found its way into the enterprise-grade StarVR One headset design.
Now, Tobii has announced its next-generation IS5 platform, which it - naturally - claims is a considerable improvement over previous generations. 'We continuously develop our technology to be able to reach a broader set of form factors as ultimately we believe that eye tracking will be a natural part of most devices on the market,' says Henrik Eskilsson, Tobii chief executive. 'IS5 marks a significant step forward in meeting the requirements of customers to be able to integrate into a much wider array of devices. With IS5, we are ready to take eye tracking to the next level in the PC market.'
The new platform comes with a modular hardware design some 60 percent smaller than its predecessor, along with efficiency improvements leading to a 75 percent reduction in power draw. A new infrared illumination system is completely invisible to the human eye - key for use in VR systems where any excess light can spoil the effect - while supporting face-recognition biometric security functionality including Windows Hello. The company also claims software improvements, coupled with the new sensor, have led to improvements in performance - particularly under unspecified 'difficult conditions.'
Tobii has not yet shared when the first consumer products based around IS5 are likely to appear on shelves, but has more information on the platform itself on its official website.