Gamers are still a ways off from being able to use eye tracking in virtual reality (VR), as the best VR headsets boasting the tech are still dedicated to business customers. In the meantime, the Tobii Eye Tracker 5 released today aims to bring eye tracking to a more mainstream audience through a module that you can connect to your gaming PC and mount on your display.
Like Tobii’s earlier eye trackers, the Eye Tracker 5 lets you control certain functions, depending on the game, in supported titles. As of this writing, there are 153 games, including Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Tomb Raider and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 that work with eye tracking. Watch Dogs: Legion will also have the feature when it comes out on in late 2020 or early next year.
According to the announcement, Tobii made the Eye Tracker 5 specifically for gamers. It’s also handy for daily use, as it can unlock PCs that require login via Windows Hello facial recognition.
Tobii equipped its newest eye tracker with a new “custom-built” optical biometric sensor that’s supposed to be faster and more responsive than Tobii’s Eye Tracker 4C. Tobii is promising latency improvements over its predecessor, as well as a greater field of view, which Tobii told Tom's Hardware measures 40 x 40 degrees, compared to the 4C's 38 x 29 degrees). The vendor claimed this greater field of view would be a benefit in eSports titles, such as League of Legends, which supports eye tracking through an eSports training subscription.
In terms of latency, a Tobii rep told us, "What differs from the 4C is improved latency consistency for Tobii Eye Tracker 5, rather than improved average latency."
Tobii is able to make these claims due to a new head tracking algorithm that purportedly keeps track of how a gamer’s head moves with greater precision. The company didn’t offer many details, but promised simulation fans would enjoy the improvements.
It’s unclear how much the Eye Tracker 5 will burden your PC’s CPU. Its predecessor was said to average 5% processor usage on an 9th Generation Intel Core i7, with 2W-8W power consumption, a USB transfer rate of 100 KBps and 90 Hz frequency. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eye Tracker 5 has beefier needs and specs.
Made with lightweight aluminum, the Eye Tracker 5 has a design improvement over the Eye Tracker 4C in its angled mount, which is supposed to make it easier to attach to the screen on your best gaming laptop, as well as gaming monitors of “various sizes,” including curved ones.
Tobii told us that it's ideal to sit 18-37 inches (45-95cm) from the Eye Tracker 5, but the teach can perform headtracking on heads of all sizes.
Outside of enjoying the 100-plus titles with eye tracking, dedicated gamers can use Tobii eye trackers for eSports training if they also get the Mobalytics app. Tobii also targets its eye tracking tech at streamers, who can show their fans where they’re looking when they’re raking in kills.
Tobii Eye Tracker 5 Price
At $229, the Eye Tracker 5 originally seemed expensive to me, as the Eye Tracker 4C originally sold for $170. But in December, Tobii upped the price of the Eye Tracker 4C from $169 to $229, citing tariffs the U.S. imposed on China. Tobii is based in Sweden, but its trackers are manufactured in China.
Tobii has suggested that the price could drop in the future, but for now it looks like gamers are stuck with a larger price tag if they want to add eye tracking to their gaming PCs.
Editor's note: This article was updated to include additional information from Tobii.
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Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.