Tristan Hume

Github Resume + Project List Blog

Eye Tracker Reviews: Pupil Labs, Tobii, Eye Tribe, XLabs

24 March 2016

During my time at the UWaterloo HCI Lab I’ve had the opportunity to try out 5 different eye trackers and compare them. These eye trackers span the price range from free to $10,000+ and use a variety of different tracking methods. These trackers are also not always direct alternatives, they are often meant for very different scenarios.

Disclaimer: These are the results that I got for myself using these eye trackers. Eye tracking performance varies wildly between people so it is likely that for some of these trackers I got atypically bad or good performance. When my results don’t square with claimed performance or performance I’ve seen in videos I’ll try and note that.

Also, I have not done exact degrees accuracy tests on any of these trackers. I may however give figures in degrees, here’s what I mean when I mean by these: Whenever I test these out, the tracked point or the filtered point (if there is jitter) is with high probability within a given distance of my real gaze point. I then use trigenometry to work out the degree angle corresponding to that distance, a handy rule of thumb is that each degree corresponds to about a centimeter of distance at a typical screen-head distance ( tan(1.0*(pi/180))*60 = 1.04 ).

With that out of the way lets move on to the trackers:

Pupil Labs Headset: My favourite research eye tracker

My lab has a Pupil Labs eye tracking headset with a high speed world camera and 120hz binocular eye cameras. It’s well suited for a variety of research, and is the only eye tracker with amazing open source software.

Pros:

Cons:

Watch out for:

Tobii EyeX / Steelseries Sentry: Best consumer eye tracker

The Tobii EyeX (or the identical Steelseries Sentry) is an incredible consumer eye tracker. One downside is it only works on Windows, but I’ve gotten around this by running the EyeX software in a VMWare Fusion VM and piping the data to my mac over UDP. Two caveats are that in order to switch to the mac and have tracking continue you have to lock the VM’s screen resolution. Also if the load gets too high on the VM sometimes the tracker will stop and take a couple seconds before it automatically restarts, this is only an issue in VMs and can be mostly avoided by running no other programs on the Windows VM.

Edit 2016/11/14: Tobii has now announced the Eye Tracker 4C which is their new consumer eye tracker. It includes an ASIC for on-device processing which lowers CPU load and only needs USB 2.0 bandwidth. This probably solves the USB 3.0 VM crashing issues I experienced. It also has head tracking, but I have no idea how accurate it is. I may get one when it comes out, if so I’ll write about it here.

Pros:

Cons:

The Eye Tribe Tracker: Good but doesn’t work well for me

The Eye Tribe tracker (I have the older $100 model) is a great piece of hardware at a great price, unfortunately it barely works for me. I’ve seen it work well for other people in videos so I’m not claiming this is a common problem, just one that I invariably experience. I’ve tried it in tons of environments with different computers, positions and eyewear. After reverse engineering it I think I have identified the problem as due to extra glints on the side of my eyes when looking away from the center of my screen. I can calibrate in the center and get ~4 degrees of accuracy within a 1000 x 1000px area, but that isn’t great.

As such, I’ve restricted my Pros and cons to discussing other issues than accuracy:

Pros:

Cons:

Tobii X2-30: Great but overpriced

My lab has a Tobii Pro X2-30 which in many ways is similar to the Tobii EyeX. The main hardware difference is that it uses two cameras instead of one, but I assume they are lower resolution since it only needs USB 2.0 bandwidths instead of USB 3.0. The main legal difference is that you are allowed to record the gaze data with the pro models. The main practical difference is that the X2-30 costs over 50 TIMES as much. The price is not public and I imagine they quote different prices to different people. I’m not sure if my lab signed any agreements with regards to giving away the price so I’ll just say we paid somewhere over 50x the price of an EyeX.

The pros/cons and tracking performance are very similar to the Tobii EyeX. Unless you are doing a study where you need to record gaze data, the 50x increase in price is not worth it in my opinion.

Pros:

Cons:

XLabs Gaze Chrome Plugin: Best webcam only eye tracker

The XLabs chrome plugin allows you to do eye tracking on a web page using only a webcam and no special hardware. I’ve only ever had good results when trying out their EyesDecide software, although I was also in a different environment when I tried it that way.

Pros:

Cons:

Others

There are tons of crazy expensive research eye tracking systems that I haven’t tried for exactly that reason: they cost way too much. I’m sure some of them are quite excellent, but they cost as much of a car for hardware that certainly isn’t 1/10th that expensive to manufacture.

There’s two other sub-$1000 eye trackers I have not tried but I have read a bit about:

Gazepoint GP3

The Gazepoint GP3 is $500 and internally uses a Point Grey camera which probably has a 752x480 resolution, which is much lower than the Eye Tribe tracker. The only advantage it might have over the Eye Tribe is that it uses bright pupil tracking (so perhaps more robust) and their software might be better, but likely is not. Gazepoint’s software is also Windows only. I see no reason to consider this tracker over the cheaper and seemingly much better Tobii EyeX.

MyGaze

The MyGaze seems to be the deluxe consumer eye tracker. I haven’t bought it since it is outside my “just trying it out” budget when I already personally own 2 consumer eye trackers. However, there seems to be some glowing recommendations online from people who have tried other consumer eye trakers calling it the best of everything low cost. It is also made by engineers from SMI which is a super fancy expensive high quality research eye tracker company. There’s some recommendations and a video (that shows incredible <1 degree accuracy) on this forum thread. If you have the budget for it I recommend you try this tracker out (and then let me know how you like it).

One downside is that although the hardware only costs $500, you have to pay $900 to also get the developer SDK, unlike every other consumer eye tracker which gives away the SDK for free with the tracker.

The Eye Tribe Pro

The Eye Tribe is soon going to release a new tracker with new algorithms and supposedly better tracking on many dimensions for $200. I have no idea how good it will be or how it will compare to other low cost eye trackers.

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