Sunglasses-sized Tobii Pro Glasses 3 will make eye tracking comfortable

If you were wondering how eye-tracking hardware could evolve after becoming frighteningly accurate — in a good way — there’s now an answer. Leading eye-tracking wearable maker Tobii today revealed its Tobii Pro Glasses 3, which have shrunk to roughly the size of aviator-style sunglasses while adding even better recording technology. For businesses and researchers interested in measuring eye movements or using them to control devices, the comparatively small, unobtrusive form factor could be a very big deal.

Having spent years working on consumer and professional eye-tracking systems, the Swedish company is billing its latest offering as ideal for visual attention research, particularly outdoors, as it brings eye-tracking and real world scene-recording hardware into a design people could comfortably wear in public. Four eye cameras and 16 illuminators are integrated into the lenses without blocking the user’s view, while a wide-angle external camera simultaneously records “much more” of the environment than the second-generation Glasses model, even in dusk-like lighting conditions. Android and Windows devices can be used to wirelessly control recordings.

Unlike the company’s consumer hardware, which has been sold as an accessory and integrated into mixed reality headsets, Tobii Pro Glasses 3 are designed specifically for enterprise use. Designers can employ them to see how users interact with product prototypes, such as moment-by-moment tracking of a driver’s focus when testing new automotive heads-up displays. Marketers can use them to instantly track which packaging or product design attracts the most attention. Managers can watch replays of what workers see in factories or other workspaces, helping to increase safety or remove distractions. Audio is recorded along with the videos and synchronized eye-tracking data to provide a complete picture of the experience.

Like prior generations of the Tobii hardware, the wearable has uses beyond business applications, including scientific research. Measurements are done at very high rates — 50 or 100 updates per second — and the system automatically adjusts for slippage to keep tracking accurate throughout recordings. Tobii also offers add-on IR-blocking safety lenses for outdoor use, and it says the new design fits under helmets and headgear so that the glasses can be used in numerous scenarios. That’s an improvement over the prior model, which had some awkwardly positioned components that required special accommodations to integrate into helmets.

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While the new glasses are indeed “Pro” and targeted towards enterprises, they demonstrate where eye tracking is headed for consumers in the foreseeable future — into ever-smaller and more convenient form factors. Beyond analytics, Tobii’s hardware enables eyes to control user interfaces, using gaze changes to move a cursor and reading a fixed gaze on a given point to signal acceptance or moving forward. VR and AR companies have welcomed that use of the technology, as well as the virtues of gaze tracking when offering foveated rendering, a technique that prioritizes graphics detail where the eye is looking, using less detail and computing power to render the periphery.

Tobii Pro Glasses 3 are available starting today. Pricing is available on request from the company’s sales team.

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