Tobii adds eye-tracking for 360-degree videos

After last year’s addition of VR eye-tracking, the Sweden-based firm now allows marketers to map gaze-trails in the major virtual environments.

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From Tobii

From Tobii

Last summer, eye-tracking research firm Tobii announced that it could track users’ gazes inside VR environments.

Now, the Sweden-based company has unveiled Tobii Pro Lab VR 360, extending eye-tracking to 360-degree videos.

While VR environments are generated on-the-fly as 3D worlds, with each user having a different experience tailored to her responses, a 360-degree video is previously recorded and always presents the same experience for all viewers.

Although 360-degree videos can be seen via a number of different devices, Tobii’s eye-tracking integration is only available on a retrofitted HTC Vive headset. The eye-tracking can also be combined with galvanic skin response measurement, which can track stress, excitement or fear via a wristband and electrodes.

UK Director of Research Tim Holmes told me that eye-tracking of 360-video was not more difficult technically than VR, but his company’s development team just happened to tackle it later.

Tobii’s infrared tracking can follow where a users’ pupils are focused, thus determining where the viewer is directing their gaze. Holmes said one advantage for marketers in tracking responses to 360-video environments is the ability to provide realistic video, as opposed to the graphically-generated 3D environments that populate VR.

A consumer’s response to new products or new product placement inside a store environment, for instance, might be more accurate since it is photorealistic, and not a graphical rendition.

Creators of 360-videos, Holmes added, might also be able to learn what attracts viewers’ gaze, so that they can better design these wraparound videos to guide viewers’ attention via visual cues or other techniques.

While competitors also offer eye-tracking inside virtual environments, Holmes contends that his company’s solution is more accurate.

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About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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