September 15, 2017

I Look Therefore I Speak: How Eye Tracking Technology Is Reshaping Communication

I Look Therefore I Speak: How Eye Tracking Technology Is Reshaping Communication

Early of 2017, Elon Musk made a hard-hitting claim: to compete with artificial intelligence in future, humans must become cyborgs. Only injection of mesh-like “neural lace” on people’s brain will be the remedy to stay relevant. Back to reality, the world we live in today illustrates that some people cannot fully perform the actions so natural to other, much less robots. Tobii eyetracking company found a solution here – by means of eye tracking technology, people with health limitations have opportunity to live a more normal life. In terms of the “Speaker’s Corner” at Ciklum, three Tobii team members told a full story on how eye tracking technology evolved and is applied at the moment. “A world, where all technologies work in a complete harmony with natural human behavior”- the core mission, which has been implemented for more than 15 years by the Swedish company.

What is eyetracking?

Eye tracking technology understands where a person’s eyes are looking at a given point of time, monitoring his presence, consciousness, focus and drowsiness. Eye tracking research is opening incredible yet clear and measurable insights into people’s behavior. This technology is going to disrupt the way we communicate through our desktops and smartphones in future by seven-league strides.

How does eye tracking work?

Eye trackers takes pictures of the eyes, most importantly the pupils. The pupils is where the light gets into the eye. The eyes are not moving smoothly, but are either fixating on something or making rapid movements. These rapid movements are called saccades. During saccades, the eyes cannot see anything – people start to mentally process the image only when their eyes are fixed on some point.
Eye movements

Our eyes have got a special layer that reflects infrared light (here’s why everybody has so many red-eyed photos after being flashed). The eye tracking device lights up the pupil with infrared light so the pupil becomes detectable. All the eye tracking products undergo rigorously serious eye safety tests to make sure that the quantity of infrared light is acceptable to use.

Eyetracking technology explained

How Eye Tracking works. Source:

The Tobii Eye Tracker estimates the point of gaze with extreme accuracy using image sensor technology to find the user’s eyes and calculates the point of gaze with sophisticated image analysis and mathematics. Results of Eye tracking sessions can be measured in fixations, order of fixations, time of gaze and movements between fixations.

Eyetracking measurement: fixations and saccades

Where Eye Tracking technology can be used?

Any action that person has in mind is preceded by a gaze directed on the object – this fact reveals a huge potential of how many human interactions may be performed with a substantial degree of eye tracking technology sophistication.

There can be all sorts of uses for Eye Tracking Technology. Today, the Tobii Company’s product reshapes communication in 3 main directions:

1    Assistive technology for people with reduced ability to communicate

From day one, Tobii Dynavox declares its mission as giving people the ability to live a richer and more independent life. Eye tracking assistive technology serves as a communication platform for disabled people, who have only one mode of transmitting information – their eyes. People, who have some serious health limitations like cord injury, autism, Parkinson’s or other types of diseases, can perform common everyday operations using just their gaze.

To really unlock the power of eye tracking technology, Microsoft is planning to add native eye tracking support into Windows 10. With this support, people suffering from neuromuscular diseases would be able to control the various interface elements in Windows 10 without a traditional mouse and keyboard.

With the advent of the eye tracking technology, thousands of people with health limitations have a full access to everyday activities. The girl suffering from severe cerebral palsy, with no ability to speak or distinctly move her head, can now tell her needs only with her eyes – eye tracker enables her interact with other people.

2    Eye tracking to discover human behavior

This direction is a key pillar for Tobii Company – with a market share close to 50% it is undoubtedly a world leader in eye-tracking solutions for understanding human behavior. Tobii Pro encompasses:

  • eye tracking hardware (desktop research eye trackers, scientific high-speed eye trackers, wearables);
  • software suite for research & analysis;
  • specific consultations on consumer behavior and training academy.

Research conducted with eye tracking technology often bring unexpected insights of consumer behavior comparing to ordinary research, when people usually forget something or don’t tell the truth. If the company needs to find out whether some product on the shelf is better or some webpage is more useful, or how ads work – with eye tracking it doesn’t sound like a closed book any more.

Application of eyetracking technology

Such a span of activity provokes the interest from not only large multinational and research companies – all of the world’s 50 top-rated universities get answers to a host of questions by applying eye tracking technology. Brain development, child psychology, learning, reading, psychiatric disorders – here’s just a few realms where eye tracking researches are held.

Human behavior in the apple of their eye

Eye tracking truly understands behavior and consumer responses:

  • Non-intrusive, objective and immediate

Provides Answers to Questions:

  • What catches people’s interest?
  • What does the person pay attention to longer?
  • Has the person processed the information?
  • What delivers the person to the purchase decision?

Strong commercial value of insights – information serves as the basis for further improvements:

  • E.g. sales improvement due to optimizing usability, visibility of package designs, ads, in-store communications, store lay-outs

Increasing conversion rate with improved stability:

  • User experience improvement of software and devices

What’s more, Eye Tracking has a significant value for education – particularly for understanding and assessing Human Performance. For example, while learning to play the piano or some kind of sports, the students receive immediate feedback on the hidden eccentricities of their performance, while teachers are given new means to correct and help students in their progress.

3 Eye Tracking to bring interaction with electronics on a new level

In the not-too-distant future, products that intuitively understand the user will be a common thing. Tobii Tech is focused on creating truly natural experiences while integrating eye tracking into consumer electronics. It targets high volume markets such as PC, gaming, mainstream, VR, smartphones and specialized markets.

If you are a dedicated gamer, who is exploring the landscape and fighting various monsters at the same time, you have to be some sort of an octopus to hold several things simultaneously. However, eye tracking technology allows you to have one additional input mode.

Tobi Tech provides the platforms, components, algorithms and IPs that enabled three out of the top-5 hardware companies in PC gaming to launch products with Tobii eye tracking.

Since 2001, Tobii has gone its way from a small Swedish ‘garage’ startup to the Number One Company in eye tracking. Today with 700 Tobiians scattered around the world, they have come a long way. Prior to 2010 Tobii had all IT capacities in-house, but as its activity was expanding into new markets, the company partnered with Ciklum to enforce software development. Now Tobii can focus on its main challenges without worrying about IT software. Ciklum’s team of 20 developers are proud to tackle a vast range of challenges aimed to bring technology and people together.

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