Oculus Has Acquired The Eye Tribe, An Eye-Tracking Startup

30 Dec

By Mudit Mohilay, The Tech Portal

Oculus has acquired Danish startup, The Eye Tribe. The acquisition makes for a very interesting combination as The Eye Tribe could potentially bring about a major change in the ways we currently interact with Virtual Reality interfaces.

In case you are unaware of it, The Eye Tribe is a Denmark based startup that produces eye tracking technology, The company sells its services to software developers, who can then incorporate them into their own applications and programs in order to enhance them. The startup was quite well known for coming up with software that could let users to control devices with their eyes.

Some of the most popular applications of the company produced software include auto-scrolling while reading books or music sheets and also the ability to control stuff happening on your screens merely with the blink of an eye. The Eye Tribe tracking systems work by deploying a camera and a high-resolution infrared LED, that can be set up in a mobile device.

The camera tracks the eye movement and runs them through computer-vision algorithms. This process helps the software determine where the user is looking on the screen of the device. After that, further additions to the software are used to add controls that work by the direction of movement of the eyeball. Users can also use the tech to set a gaze-operated password, which would require them to look at points on screen so as to unlock the screen.

The company has raised over $3 million from a clutch of investors and has also received $2 million+ in grants from The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.

As far as application in VR is concerned — because that is where we assume its technologies will be used after acquisition — well, the tech could be used to create better experiences within the VR plane. Many interfaces are already using eye movement as an essential component to let you teleport around locations while many others are integrating it within their systems so as to mirror the movement of your eyes on your avatar as well.

Meanwhile, we were expecting some major change after Eye Tribe sent the following e-mail to users, on the 12th of December.

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.

Contrary to expectations that the company was shutting down due to some reasons, it is actually joining Oculus. We will have to wait to see how exactly Oculus integrates The Eye Tribe’s tech into its own systems, but I bet it will be interesting. Meanwhile, the financial details of the deal have yet to be disclosed.