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Linux-based eyewear tracks eye movements

May 23, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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Tobii announced a Linux-based eyewear device with advanced eye-tracking software that lets market researchers see what’s capturing the viewer’s attention.

At first glance, Tobii Glasses 2 may look like another Google Glass competitor, but there’s more — and less — here than meets the eye. First, this is not a casual date: the glasses cost a whopping $14,900, and the Premium Analytics package goes for $29,900. Second, the eyewear is not designed for snapping photos of checking the Internet on the move. Instead, it lets researchers see what is captivating a test subject’s interest. The device can be used to watch what you’re looking at on a website, a TV screen, or signage, or when walking into a store or restaurant. They can analyze how you drive a car, train on equipment, or even play sports.



Tobii Glasses behind the wheel, and shopping
(click images to enlarge)

Four cameras focus on the subject’s eyes (two per eye) to precisely calculate one’s gaze, and sophisticated algorithms do the rest. The software can also analyze a subject’s emotional response, not only the object of attention.

A Tobii rep confirmed our suspicions that Tobii Glasses 2 runs embedded Linux. The device works in concert with Windows 8 software that can run on a tablet. It’s proprietary, at least for now, although a Mashable report says Tobii will open up the platform at least partially in October when it releases an SDK. Conceivably, the technology could branch out beyond its central market research focus to be used for augmented reality applications.



Tobii Glasses 2
(click images to enlarge)

The first generation Tobii product was unveiled in 2010, before Google started showing off its eyewear computer. The eyeglass design was a breakthrough compared with earlier bulky eye-tracking devices, enabling applications outside the lab in real-world settings. The 45 gram device looks more like regular glasses — or at least Google Glasses – than do competitive eye-tracking platforms such as SMI’s eye-tracking glasses.

Tobii Glasses 2 provides a wider, 160-degree field of vision than the previous model. Transparent side pieces help enable peripheral viewing. Other enhancements are said include improved tracking algorithms, including improved persistent calibration and slippage compensation in case one’s head moves.

Tobii Glasses 2 has also added a 1080p front-facing video to give remote researchers a real-time view of what the subject is viewing. Data is transmitted via WiFi and also stored on an SD card. No processor or memory details were disclosed, but the device integrates a gyroscope and accelerometer, a microphone, and a 120-minute battery.

 
Further information

Tobii Glasses 2 are available now, starting at $14,900, and ranging up to $29,900. More information may be found at the Tobii Glasses 2 product page.
 

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