10 Jan 2017

Rishabh Tripathi

Facebook Acquires Eye Tribe - An Eye Tracking Startup

Facebook Inc.’s Oculus has acquired The Eye Tribe, a company that tracks eye movement in virtual reality to improve the experience. Oculus is a virtual reality company which facebook acquired in early 2014 for $2 billion. The acquisition price is neither disclosed by the Oculus nor by the facebook.


Facebook has not  yet clarified what it plans to do with this acquisition but its speculated that it is especially interested in eye tracking because the company wants to take the lead in social interactions in VR. The ability to follow eye movement makes it easier to understand people’s expressions and let them communicate effectively with each other in a virtual world. Facebook may be more interested in what Eye Tribe calls passive tracking. Passive eye tracking records where a person looks and how long they look at a specific location. The technology is usually advertised as a method for making user interfaces more friendly and website displays more effective from a marketing perspective.


What Is The Eye Tribe ?
Founded in 2011 Eye Tribe aims at providing affordable , consumer oriented eye-tracking technology . The company has produced an API that allows software developers to build eye tracking into their applications and a $199 consumer product called the Eye Tribe Tracker Pro.

The company had raised around $3 million from investors including Startup Bootcamp, and taken a $2.3 million grant from The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation. The Eye Tribe competed in TechCrunch’s CES Hardware Battlefield in early 2014 when it first began shipping its dev kit. Lately it’s been working to get more developers on its SDK, building applications that benefit from eye tracking.

Facebook isn’t alone in focusing on the importance of eye tracking to VR. Alphabet Inc.’s Google acquired Eyefluence, another startup working on eye-tracking technology, in October. The search giant is investing in virtual reality as it aims to integrate its media services, like YouTube and its app store, into the nascent technology.