The Eye Tribe
The Eye Tribe was a Danish startup company that produced eye tracking technology and was selling it to software developers for them to incorporate the eye tracking device into their applications and programs. The Eye Tribe’s software allowed a user to direct a smart phone, tablet, or computer with just the look of an eye. The company focused on a sleek appearance and a portable structure.
Sune Alstrup john (CEO), Javier San Agustin, Martin Tall (CTO), and Henrik Skovsgaard are the four founders of the company started in 2011. The four men met in 2006 at the IT University of Copenhagen. The four quickly found their ambition to create eye-tracking technology at an affordable cost, and soon took the rights and ownership for their ideas from the university where they were working and created their start-up company. The men named the company “Senseye”, until later changing their name to “The Eye Tribe”. The company started to take off in 2011 when The Eye Tribe participated in the European Startup Bootcamp accelerator program. After the StartupBootcamp, the company started to make its mark and become more well known, earning a spot in the “Cool Vendors in Human-Machine Interface, 2012” report by Gartner Inc. among five other companies. Later in 2012, The Eye Tribe received US$2.3 million from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation and another million from private European investors. The Eye Tribe is also leading a USD 4.4 million government-funded project, making it the major project for developing eye tracking for hand-held devices. On December 12 2016 The Eye Tribe sent an email to its customer list, informing them that they "decided to go in a different direction with their technology and stopped development of their products." On 29 December Facebook bought the company for its Oculus division in order to incorporate the technology in Vr gaming.
As of October 2013[update], The Eye Tribe was getting ready to send out the first shipments of their eye tracking technology. The Eye Tribe has broken the record for smallest eye tracker device in the world, measuring in at 20 × 1.9 × 1.9 cm. Also, the eye tracker does not require a separate power source, making it even more portable. The device uses a USB 3.0 connection, which allows it to run with most computers and tablets. The Eye Tribe is compatible with Microsoft Windows 7 or newer and OS X, but the company is in the process of working on support for other major platforms, such as Android. They are selling the device to developers with a simple software development kit using C++, C# and Java programming platforms.
The main components of the Eye Tribe tracker are a camera and a high-resolution infrared LED, which can easily be set up in a cell phone or mobile device. The Eye Tribe’s device uses a camera to track the user’s eye movement. The camera tracks even the most minuscule of movements of the users’ pupils, by taking the images and running them through computer-vision algorithms. The algorithms read “on-screen gaze coordinates” and help the software to then determine where on the screen the user is looking. The algorithms also work with the hardware, camera sensor and light, to enhance the users’ experiences in many different kinds of light settings and environment, although the device works best indoors.
Before using the eye tracking device, a calibration is needed in order for the device to find a user's pupils and identify unique eye characteristics needed to help enhance the accuracy of tracking one's gaze. The tracker has an average accuracy of about 0.5 degree of visual angle and can identify and follow the movement of an eye with sub millimeter precision, which is around the size of a fingertip.
|Sampling rate||30 Hz and 60 Hz mode|
|Spatial resolution||0.1° (RMS)|
|Latency||< 20 ms at 60 Hz|
|Calibration||5, 9, 12 points|
|Operating range||45 cm – 75 cm|
|Tracking area||40 cm × 30 cm at 65 cm distance|
|Screen sizes||Up to 24 inches|
|API/SDK||C++, C# and Java included|
|Data output||Binocular gaze data|
|Dimensions||(W/H/D) 20 × 1.9 × 1.9 cm (7.9 × 0.75 × 0.75 inches)|
|Connection||USB 3.0 Superspeed|
The Eye Tribe Company is developing their eye tracking device in hopes that sometime in the near future many products, such as smart phones, tablets, and computers, will carry Eye Tribe’s software. The company’s goal is for their eye tracking technology to become a household item and a common feature on most devices.
From their demos, The Eye Tribe makes it clear that they hope their technology will become versatile, used for many things from games to working, from browsing the web to security. A game most often used in their demos is Fruit Ninja, an application on most smart phones (used in iPhones and androids). The game usually uses a touch screen to slice fruit, but with eye tribe technology, the gamer would just look at the screen and use their gaze to play. Eye Tribe is working with other application designers to integrate their technology into other games for pleasure.
The Eye Tribe Company often demonstrates how their software works in their demos by showing someone scrolling down a web page by just staring at the screen. It exemplifies how the device can be hands-free when needed, making it easy and quick to read and browse the web. An example would be when you are watching a how-to video, you can pause it or rewind with your eyes, because your hands are too busy.
Another example of eye tracking is security. Users can set a gaze-operated password, where they would have to look at certain parts of the screen in order to unlock the device. Some would argue that this is a more efficient and secure way to lock their devices.
On December 12, 2016, The Eye Tribe sent the following email to their customers:
An Update From The Eye Tribe
Thank you for supporting The Eye Tribe and ordering the world’s first truly affordable eye tracker. It is customers like you that have helped us get to where we are today.
Unfortunately, we’ve decided to go in a different direction with our technology and will stop development of our products. We thought you should hear this news directly from us. We thank you for the time you’ve spent in discussions.
-The Eye Tribe Team
A similar email was sent to the users of their Eyeproof service: An Update From EyeProof
After several years of providing online eye tracking analysis, we are announcing that we are wrapping up EyeProof. On January 31th 2017 we will shut down our service and delete all data. No user data, account information, stimuli or recordings will be kept after this point.
We want to make this closing as smooth as possible for everyone who uses EyeProof. If you have an active account you are able to download all your data before the closing date. We kindly ask you to navigate to the export section, which can be found on the right-side panel, for each of your studies and manually export your data and screenshots. The EyeProof documentation has a section explaining the different fields for the raw data, fixations, AOIs and area transitions for each resource: http://beta.eyeproof.net/docs/#export
All the best and thank you for supporting EyeProof and contributing to the eye tracking community.
The EyeProof Team
There wasn't any further explanation provided as to the reason, or if any support would be available to those who already purchased their eye tracking device. After the announcement, the company's website (theeyetribe.com) was taken down, and email sent to their support bounced back. A slightly different version of the company website was put back online a few days later, lacking any mention of the company ceasing operations. Neither the blog nor the website has any mentions of the ceasing of operations the company's customers had been notified of, leaving some uncertainty about the company's status or future.
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