Wearable Tech World Feature Article
May 19, 2014

Smart Glasses That Track Exactly What You Are Looking At

Tobii Technology is a Swedish technology company that was founded in 2001. The company develops and sells products for eye control and eye tracking. It is a worldwide leader in eye tracking and gaze interaction. Tobii delivers comprehensive, market-leading eye-tracking solutions and OEM components for applications such as computers, gaming and vehicles.

Today, we have an announcement from Stockholm, Sweden, that Tobii has launched Tobii Glasses 2. The wearable device is described as the lightest and most advanced eye tracking research system in the world. The glasses will offers, what is seen as, unprecedented functionality including wireless live viewing. Tobii Glasses 2 is designed to open up new opportunities for human behavior research and discoveries in real-world environments.

You might be asking why this would be important. Well, eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze, which is where one is looking, or the motion of an eye relative to the head. Eye trackers, such as Tobii Glasses, are used in research on the visual system, in psychology, in cognitive linguistics and in product design. There are a number of methods for measuring eye movement. The most popular variant uses video images from which the eye position is extracted.

You can see from this description that eye tracking has uses in many diverse fields. As it is, your smartphone or tablet can already track your location, as well as your communications Tobii Glasses 2 will track what you are looking at. Information, such as what a person spends the most time looking at when watching TV or looking at a tablet is exactly the type of data that researchers are looking for.

Image via Tobii

Tom Englund, president of Tobii Technology Analysis Solutions, said “Our new Tobii Glasses 2 offers amazing opportunities to obtain real-world gaze data in real time, which provides great value for a wide range of users. In addition to offering live viewing, we’ve made the technology easier to use and more affordable, which supports our mission to help more researchers use wearable eye tracking to generate new insights and discoveries.”

You can hear more from Englund and Tobii by watching this short video:

Eye-tracking smart glasses are not new to Tobii. It has had them for a while; the Tobii Glasses 2 is the newest version and has some nice upgrades. Each eye is now tracked by two cameras, which means that even if the wearer adjusts the glasses slightly, they will have a better chance of tracking your gaze. At 1.6 ounces, they're also extremely light. This updated version has several new key features that include:

Live View – Tobii Glasses 2 provides a live viewing feature that allows researchers to watch a video stream of exactly what a person is looking at, wirelessly and in real time on any Windows 8 tablet while moving around freely in any environment. This feature is very easy to use, even for first-time users, and serves as an extremely valuable tool for a wide variety of qualitative research.

  • True View – Tobii Glasses 2 is equipped with a wide-angle 1080p HD scene camera and four eye cameras, all built into a thin frame. This gives the wearer complete freedom of view and enables for the first time high-quality eye tracking of the “true view” of what participants see in large gaze angles, including peripheral sight. This feature, unique to Tobii Glasses 2, makes it possible to conduct studies of activities that naturally involve peripheral viewing, such as driving
  • Flexible Mapping – Tobii Glasses 2 offers a new flexible manual mapping tool that significantly reduces time for coding videos with gaze data. This feature helps researchers more quickly and easily aggregate and process data from multiple participants related to specific objects in the study environment, such as a store shelf or a second screen
  • Efficient Workflows – System-guided procedures and quick calibration provide an efficient workflow and make it easy for anyone to start using the system. The system tracks a large cross section of the population, which helps reduce field time and overall research project costs

Possibly, one of the best upgrades that researchers will appreciate is real-time tracking. A researcher can watch what a person's looking at on a tablet or laptop as they're looking at it. The footage is transmitted wirelessly from the glasses and the device also saves the footage to an SD card—offering researchers a real-time gaze point to study.

Tobii North America’s general manager, Barbara Barclay made the following comment, “Over the past four years, we have witnessed incredible new discoveries in shopper marketing, behavioral science and usability research that had not been possible before Tobii Glasses. Tobii Glasses 2 offers a number of new features that will advance wearables significantly in all these fields but also open up a multitude of new research applications, providing a higher degree of ease of use, efficiency, flexibility and unobtrusiveness.”

When it comes time to analyze all of this information, Tobii can also help you out. Tobii offers extensive training programs through the Tobii Insights division. Customers who need training or would prefer to outsource any part of their eye tracking research project can take advantage of the Tobii team’s expertise.

All of this does not come in an economy package however. Tobii Glasses 2 package options range from Live View packages costing $14,900 to Premium Analytics packages at $29,900 for the full spectrum of qualitative and quantitative analysis. There is also a 12 month subscription option that is available for the Premium Analytics package. The cost for this option is $800 per month. Orders can be placed starting today and shipments are expected to begin in October 2014.

Tobii plans to open up the Glasses 2, along with the software that powers them, to developers later this year. Also expected to be available in October is an SDK. This is something that would allow manufacturers to integrate Tobii's platform into their own wearables.

This could eventually open the device to other areas such as augmented reality gaming headsets and smart glasses that can display information about exactly what you're looking at. Barclay said "That will allow people who are doing more complex interactions to take the platform of the glasses and do all kinds of things."

Want to learn more about the latest in wearable technology? Be sure to attend Wearable Tech Expo, July 23 & 24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.  Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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