Tobii Pro now invisibly tracks users’ eyes in VR
The company has installed its tech inside HTC Vive headsets, so marketers and others can readily track attention paths.
Virtual reality is just beginning to develop the kinds of analytical tools that help marketers determine what works.
Today, eye-tracking research firm Tobii added another tool — one that invisibly tracks users’ visual attention in virtual reality. It has integrated its infrared tech into HTC Vive VR headsets so they are invisible to a user, while its accompanying software development kit (SDK) exports eye-tracking data for analysis.
As CEO Tom Englund noted, this kind of research can determine not only where gamers are looking when they’re shooting aliens, but where shoppers are looking when they walk down a virtual grocery aisle. (See image at top.)
He said that, to his knowledge, this is the first “seamless” eye-tracking solution integrated with VR. Previous Tobii implementations, he said, were “clunky and obstructed your view.” The HTC/Tobii headsets can track anyone’s eyes, even users with glasses, and it refreshes data at 120 Hz.
Other applications include analyzing surgeons’ attention paths in virtual operating rooms or better understanding how pilots visually interact with their airliner control panels.
In addition to providing eye-tracking headsets for use with computer screens, Tobii Pro has also provided its headgear for use in actual physical environments.
But, Englund pointed out, the ability to create realistic environments in VR means that marketers, professional trainers, medical instructors and others who analyze real-world behavior can more quickly spin up and control a credible environment to determine real-life attention patterns.
For instance, researchers can study anxieties such as spider phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so they can better understand how the user is visually processing such a stressful situation.
Englund noted that another division at Tobii is working with game makers and others to use eye tracking for interaction — e.g., you shoot where you look — while Tobii Pro is focused on research.