Tobii announced that its Pro Lab software and Pro SDK are now generally available. Both tools are meant to make it easier for researchers to collect eye tracking data, combine it with other biometric markers, and hopefully use all that information to learn a little bit more about how our brains work. (And, naturally, for companies to use those insights to make us buy more stuff whenever we stroll through a grocery store or visit an online marketplace.)
We covered the Pro Lab alongside the Tobii Pro Spectrum and Tobii Pro Glasses 2 eye trackers. Both devices are more accurate than Tobii's gaming-focused peripherals, which allow you to interact with compatible games with your gaze, and were made to help researchers collect eye tracking data. The Tobii Pro Spectrum does that as a big black box mounted under a 24-inch monitor; the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 does it as--er, as a pair of glasses.
Here's a taste of our experience with the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 from CES 2017:
At this point in the article, we’d normally expend some digital ink describing the experience of the demo. However, there’s really nothing to describe: I put on the glasses and looked around, and my data was pumped to Bartel’s laptop. That’s it. And that’s the point: It’s designed to distract the subject as little as possible while collecting as much data as possible.There is a quick calibration to set you up as a subject, but you just aim the glasses at a dot on a card for a few seconds, and off you go. 'Typically, [calibration is] a dot on a screen that you have the person follow around with their eyes. In this case, it’s just a one-point calibration,' [Tobii Senior Research Director, Insight Services, Mike] Bartels noted. He added that calibration takes between 5-15 seconds.
The hardware is impressive on its own, but researchers won't get anywhere without software to complement the trackers' capabilities. That's where the Pro Lab and the Pro SDK come in. Tobii said on its website that the Pro Lab will help researchers by offering millisecond timing accuracy, the ability to view a "participants’ live gaze and the position of their eyes" with an included moderator tool, and quick stimuli editing capabilities, among other things.
Tobii demonstrated the Pro Lab's capabilities in this video:
The new Pro SDK allows researchers to sync eye tracking data with other biometric information, boasts multi-platform compatibility, and was designed to be much more intuitive. It's limited to screen-based eye trackers like the Tobii Pro Spectrum--no glasses here--and doesn't cost anything to use. Tobii said the new Pro SDK replaces the Tobii Pro Analytics SDK. You can learn more about the Pro SDK from its page on the company's website.
The Pro Lab isn't free to use, and you'll have to contact Tobii's sales team to learn more about the pricing. (We suspect it depends on how many people will be using the software, how it's going to be used, and the like.) But you can still learn more about it from the Tobii Pro website. If you're more interested in Tobii's gaming-related work, you can check out our hands-on from GDC 2017 with the eye-tracking tech it built into VR HMDs.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.