Tobii Eye Trackers and Tobii Studio are a fantastic tool for performing eye tracking research and studies. Heatmaps and scan paths have become synonymous with what Tobii eye trackers output. But with the advent of cheaper built-in “assistive” eye trackers from Tobii, they will become more than just a research tool, and be more integral to a person’s interaction with computers.
I dust the cobwebs off my C# and I take a look at the Tobii SDK 3.0 released a few months ago, to check out the potential of using it as an active technology.
Enter Tobii SDK 3.0
According to the developers guide the Tobii SDK 3.0 is a complete rewrite from the previous version. It now comes in a variety of platform fruit flavours, including Windows .NET, Linux Python and even Objective-C for OS X. So potentially, you could even port a Tobii Studio for Mac. If you’re into that sort of thing.
But for now, I’m using the .NET platform and fired up Visual Studio.
A doddle to use
Every time I see an SDK that’s attached to a piece of hardware, I cringe at the thought of endless configuration hacking, installing this and that, and regress back to the days of fiddling with IRQ and COM port settings. But apart from installing Bonjour (which was already installed with Tobii Studio), it was simply a matter of registering two DLLs in your Visual Studio project and you’re ready for business.
The hardware was completely abstracted in the SDK, so no worrying about manually configuring IP settings, a stream of undecipherable data, or even calibration. Once you’ve created an instance of the “Eye tracker” object, you select your unit of choice from the browser and the data starts streaming in. No fancy deciphering of raw data needed, the values are already presented as properties of the object: Left and right eye gaze position and direction as an X Y Z coordinate in millimetres, whether the tracker can see the eye, and even pupil dilation. So the SDK really does let you just get on with what you’re trying to build.
My first proof-of-concept app using the Tobii SDK 3.0
Firstly, I’d like to dedicate this app to Jon from the fantastic guys at Acuity for coming up with this idea. Put simply, the ability to put your head in and look inside a box, using an eye tracker. Sure, it won’t win awards for neuro-psychology research, but it does bring the concept of being able to directly control and interact with an application.
The Look In The Box app which uses the Eye Tracker to control the camera.[image title="Look In The Box Application testing out the Tobii SDK 3.0" size="small" icon="zoom" lightbox="true"]http://www.emotioninsight.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/LookInBox.jpg[/image]
I had immediate access to all the parameters with relating to the position and gaze, so it didn’t take much to wire it up to the scene camera to move respectively to my eyes. In fact, I spent most of my time sorting out the Windows Presentation Foundation framework and remembering “Vertices and Meshes 101” from my Uni days. It won’t give Crysis a run for its 3D-prowess money, but I can “look into a box” with my eyes. Which is pretty cool in my opinion. See the link below to download a copy.
Potential for marketing
Cameras and meshes aside, I can really start to see the potential for using the Tobii SDK beyond analysis and research, and into more truly interactive marketing. We can add a new level of neural-psychological feedback to interactive media for marketing. For example, based on the gaze attention and relative pupil dilation, an interactive can react to a person’s level of interest and provide more relevant content based on that feedback. The possibilities are endless – I’d love to hear any ideas in the comments below.
Download Look In The BoxDownload Look In The Box (.ZIP file, 1275KB)
- Tobii Eye Tracking unit (duh!) compatible with Tobii SDK 3.0
- 64-bit Windows with .NET Framework 4 installed
- Bonjour 64-bit version (if you don’t see your tracker listed) – Download
Instructions: Download and open the .zip file and put the files in a folder in your desktop and run “LookInBox.exe”.
Disclaimer: This is warranted to work only on my computer which uses a Tobii X120 Eye Tracker. Your success and milage may vary.
Bootnote: I’d normally be happy to release the source code for whoever would want to use it, but I’m too shamefully embarrassed of my archaic coding standards at the moment. When I get around to
getting rid of the rubbish “refactoring” the code, I’ll post it up soon.
Update: Here’s the link to the source code. As above, it’s provided “as-is” with no support guarantee whatsoever, but please do keep me updated on what you do with it!Download Look In The Box Source Code (.ZIP file, 1.21MB)