What is eye tracking

What is eye tracking?

Eye tracking technology

Eye tracking is a sensor technology that can detect a person’s presence and follow what they are looking at in real-time. The technology converts eye movements into a data stream that contains information such as pupil position, the gaze vector for each eye, and gaze point. Essentially, the technology decodes eye movements and translates them into insights that can be used in a wide range of applications or as an additional input modality.

How eye tracking works

Typically, an eye tracking system comprises one or more cameras, some light sources, and computing capabilities. Algorithms translate the camera feed into data points with the help of machine learning and advanced image processing.

How eye tracking works illustration

Eye tracking by Tobii — the everyone, everywhere, every device principle

To live up to our mission of improving the world, we have built our eye tracking solutions to work for the widest possible population range, for all kinds of working environments, and on a variety of machines and devices — including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and VR and AR headsets, as well as bespoke medical, education, and training systems.

Our solutions are built to serve the granular data needs of scientists, address the mobility and lean-data requirements of commercial application developers, and provide users with a flawless experience that upholds their privacy and integrity.

And while it is relatively easy to develop an eye tracking system that works in a controlled environment, making one that lives up to the everyone, everywhere, every device principle isn’t.

For more than two decades, Tobii has worked relentlessly to create a technology that fulfills this principle and solutions that:

  • Support the widest variation of eye shapes, color, and retinal reflectivity.

  • Work irrespective of ambient light, target device, and use case.

  • Accommodate user movement.

  • Adhere to standards and support lean principles for data transfer, consumption, and computational load.

  • Uphold user privacy and integrity.

  • Are repeatable in large-scale sustainable production.

The multipronged iterative design approach needed to create such a robust technology has resulted in an extensive portfolio of over 700 patents covering the entire eye tracking domain — protecting our cost-efficient solution to the everyone, everywhere, every device principle.

eye tracking - human eye

Limitless application

The wide-reaching application of our technology is evident not only in the range of customers and partners we work with but also in the diversity of use cases they present. In VR, for example, eye tracking enables dynamic foveated rendering, freeing up device resources. Our technology fosters discovery by providing new insights into the human brain and vision in scientific research, which can lead to the creation of new diagnostic techniques and therapies.

Eye tracking facilitates handsfree device interaction, supporting users who cannot or do not want to use their hands as an input modality. This capability is the cornerstone of assistive technology. Eye tracking effectively controls the spread of germs and eases workflow in scenarios where people need to wear protective gloves or whose hands are occupied.

Data transparency

Sensor-generated biometric data can reveal a lot about a person's reactions to stimuli or how they are feeling. It can even support the diagnosis of certain medical conditions. For this reason, Tobii has developed a landmark Data Transparency Policy to uphold the privacy and integrity of everyone that uses Tobii's eye tracking either directly or through third-party applications.

To ensure compliance with our data transparency policy, our hardware technology uses real-time image processing to calculate just the necessary data points, which are in turn streamed directly to the client application. For third-party applications, users must be informed if their data is stored or transferred to another system.

New user experiences and interfaces

When combined with other input modalities, such as keyboards, touch screens, and voice, eye tracking provides application developers with new ways to enhance the user experience and build intuitive and engaging applications and device interfaces.

Tobii device integration