Tobii Pro debuts portable eye tracker for scientific research

Lightweight and easy to connect to a PC, the Tobii Pro Fusion aims to let researchers take the latest eye-tracking technology outside of the lab, reaching populations typically overlooked in behavioral science.

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Eye-tracking technology is becoming more widely available and portable, but carrying high-performance equipment for eye-tracking research into the field is still a challenge. On Tuesday, Tobii Pro announced a new, portable eye tracker called Tobii Pro Fusion designed to solve that problem. 

The Tobii Pro Fusion is a lightweight peripheral device that can be connected to any screen via USB. It's designed for researchers who want to run lab-standard experiments and collect data outside of a lab setting. 

The new device should be easy to carry along with a laptop -- it only weighs 168 grams (that's less than six ounces) and it measures 374 mm x 18 mm x 13.7 mm (making the slim bar about 14.7 inches long).

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Björn Qvarfordt

Tobii Pro, the research-focused arm of the eye-tracking company Tobii, has already taken steps to make eye-tracking research more portable, in part by integrating its technology into HTC Vive VR headsets

Eye tracking is used to study human behavior in a number of fields, including psychology, developmental studies, medical research, cognitive science and neuroscience. It's helped psychologists working on detecting signs of autism and neuroscientists studying the effects of treatments on Parkinson's disease.

However, as Tobii Pro noted in a blog post, data shows that a substantial portion of behavioral research over-relies so-called WEIRD participants -- participants from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. countries. That sample bias derives from the fact that it's simply difficult for scientists to find research participants outside of the WEIRD profile. 

A more portable eye tracker, the company notes, should let researchers find study participants who can't afford to take time off and come into a lab, or participants who live in more remote locations. 

Some of the Tobii Pro Fusion's features include: 

  • A stereoscopic system with two eye tracking cameras, designed to tolerate larger degrees of head movement 
  • Bright and dark pupil illumination for superior tracking robustness, regardless eye shapes, ethnicity or age 
  • The Tobii EyeChip for embedded processing of eye tracking calculations 
  • A sampling rate up to 250Hz, enabling studies that require higher granularity and resolution of eye movement such as saccade-based research  
  • Software compatibility with Tobii Pro Lab