This morning, the EyeTribe announced via an email to their customers that they would stop the development of their products. The particular reason is rather vague (“we’ve decided to go in a different direction with our technology“), and researchers across the board are not happy. The EyeTribe was the only real option for cheap eye tracking: It was great for demonstrations, for pupillometry and fixation control, it had a very elegant API, and the hardware was great for how much you paid for it. Best of all: It didn’t come with the restrictive licenses that almost all of the EyeTribe’s competitors use to milk their customers for more money. I, for one, am sad about the loss of this great company.
It might be good to point out that I have absolutely no official connection with the EyeTribe. I did produce unofficial software libraries for Python and Matlab, and did an independent assessment of the EyeTribe tracker’s suitability for scientific research.
This is the letter that EyeTribe sent to their customers this morning at 10:45 (UTC +0:00).
An Update From The Eye Tribe
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.
-The Eye Tribe Team
It is remarkable that the EyeTribe indicates that it has decided to go in a different direction than eye tracking. Although this might just be marketing-speak for “We didn’t get enough support from investors, so we are forced to quit our great enterprise”, it does leave us to wonder about those new directions. Is there too little money in eye tracking? Rumours are buzzing that Tobii (which has a bigger focus on commercial applications than other eye-tracking manufacturers) also fails to sell their hardware to the commercial market. (Other companies like SR Research and SensoMotoric Instruments seem to focus more on research and education applications.)
Another remarkable thing is that the email thanks customers for “the time you’ve spent in discussions“. This might just refer to the active community, who were supported by the EyeTribe and each other on the discussion forum. In my mind, one would phrase this as “support” rather than “time in discussions”. Does the EyeTribe’s choice of words reveal that they were a bit tired of their demanding clients, perhaps? Obviously, this is wild speculation, but it did leave me wondering.
Response in the scientific community/h3>
We’re sad. Very sad. And some company is pointing out that their stuff will still work with existing EyeTribe models.
Seriously? @TheEyeTribe calling it quits? So no #EyeTribe pro will be shipped? Why?!?! pic.twitter.com/8UkIMVnJV7
— Cogsci.nl (@cogscinl) December 16, 2016
Well this is awful news. @TheEyeTribe sent out an email this morning, explaining that they will stop developing eye trackers. pic.twitter.com/yCBJ5dkBsp
— Edwin Dalmaijer (@esdalmaijer) December 16, 2016
@cogscinl @TheEyeTribe Disappointing indeed. I hope we'll get an alternative soon.
— Frouke Hermens (@froukehe) December 16, 2016
@cogscinl @TheEyeTribe No way??
— Foro Ensanchesur.com (@EnsancheSur) December 16, 2016
#News about wrapping up of @TheEyeTribe are shocking. Do not worry. #TheEyeTribe devices will work great with @CoolToolMR software!
— CoolTool (@CoolToolMR) December 16, 2016
So, what do we do now? The EyeTribe won’t be shipping any new products, including their much-anticipated new $200 model. So where do we turn for cheap alternatives?
@cogscinl @TheEyeTribe Seems the EyeTribe pro I pre-ordered is not going to be shipped either. pic.twitter.com/eUJvNyglsC
— Deepak Akkil (@deepak_akkil) December 16, 2016
One potential alternative is Tobii’s EyeX. At $150, it seems a perfect alternative. However, it’s license prevents data logging. Yes, you read that right, you’re not allowed to use the EyeX for storing any data. This makes it completely useless for a whole lot of purposes, including scientific publications. Tobii is said to be working on an additional license, for which researchers will probably have to pay dearly. So Tobii is off the table.
@cogscinl @TheEyeTribe No you are right I just checked!! That's even crazier, what disappointing business tactics pic.twitter.com/WazFHCBr8N
— Jan Freyberg (@JanFreyberg) December 16, 2016
GazePoint is a smaller company, but their GP3 tracker seems to be relatively popular* among researchers. At
$495 $795 (price up-to-date as of May 2017), it’s still relatively inexpensive, but it’s considerably more than the $100 model that EyeTribe produced.
* I’m inferring this from the occasional requests we get to support it in PyGaze and OpenSesame. Unfortunately, our developers don’t have access to a GP3, so we can’t really develop and test any code. If someone feels charitable: I’m open to add support if someone were to send me a GP3!
UPDATE (2017-05-01): Someone did actually send me one, and now the GP3 is supported in PyGaze!
Part of why eye-tracking manufacturers are having trouble to sell their products to regular consumers, seems to be a lack of practical applications: With the exception of virtual reality, gaming doesn’t really seem to be improved by gaze interaction, and guiding your computer’s mouse cursor with your eyes isn’t as practical as it might seem at first. In addition, I think big players in tech might hesitate to invest time and money in hardware that might soon be obsolete. Although experts used to be quite sceptical about eye tracking with ordinary webcams, there have been promising developments in the area (MIT used the very contemporary approach of throwing neural networks at the problem). Companies like xlabs are already claiming that they can harness this upcoming technology in a meaningful way.
Does this mean we can use webcam tracking in research? Well, not quite. It’s hard to implement predictive models, as my webcam eye-tracking software nicely illustrates. It’s also hard to implement machine-learning approaches like the referenced MIT paper. Regular old researchers will likely be cheaper of investing some money in an eye tracker, than investing their time (and thus money!) in developing a webcam application.
EyeTribe, please come back!
first of all thanks for this website. I think you are doing a fanstastic contribution. I just want to say that I am also sad that EyeTribe closed down! I was about to buy an EyeTribe when I found this blog post… I’m not sure whether I can find an old one somewhere to buy, so I’m a bit stuck on “what next”.
I have one question regarding the Tobii’s EyeX that maybe someone can help me answer. Is it supported by pygaze? I just installed pygaze and copied the tobii module from the SDK that I downloaded from the website. but I’m not sure whether this works for the eyex, as I have read in some blog that eyex works different than other eye trackers…
I am looking for a device that can be used for reading education purposes. Can you please recommend an eye tracking device that can track and provide data that can graph what each eye, of a reader, is focused on, while reading the words on the screen. I need to be able to see how well synced the eyes are.
So we now have an answer – Oculus has purchased The Eye Tribe. https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/28/the-eye-tribe-oculus/
Although its good for the technology of for the Oculus Rift, it does create a problem in terms of having a low cost eye tracker on the market that can record fixation information. Tobii seem to have the cheaper gaming driven trackers, but those don’t record the information. If you want to record, then you have to use their Pro branded trackers (for much more $$).
This is really bad news. Especially so since I formatted my PC and I do not have copies of their Tracker SW and Tracker UI. Does anybody have copies of these two?
The SDK downloads have been uploaded to github: https://github.com/EyeTribe/sdk-installers/releases
There is also the full documentation:
Super helpful tip!
I have an Eye Tribe tracker, but work on a mac and was relying on their cloud software, which I can’t use now. I’m desperately searching for alternative software.. Any suggestions on options I can review?
I’m in the same boat. I have an Eye Tribe, but I need a way to analyze the data. I’m not a programmer. Is there nothing out there that I can hook into the Eye Tribe API easily on a Mac to view results?
I’ve been working with eyetracker for about 10 years now.
It’s in a way sad that THe EyeTribe stopped building their affordable system. It was a bit of an incentive to other companies to lower their prices.
On the other hand it also shows that it’s not that easy to build and support a low cost eyetracker.
Manufacturers like EyeTribe or Tobii are trying to get as many of the units out there as possible and create a market and the prices reflect that trust that a market will be there into which you can then sell tens of thousands of eyetrackers.
However the development and continuous improvement of those eyetrackers and the software that makes it useful but also the support for a huge user base of individual programmers with very diverse and individual issues are simply not covered by 100$ or even 200$.
Those prices are acceptable for consumers, but they simply are not sustainable if you want a highly reliable research instrument for academic research that works accurately with all sorts of people and need constant development.
And if you are looking at things like @Stephen Behunin you need a system that was purpose build like a Tobii Pro Solution and that can support you all the way.
And/or a system like SensoMotoric Instruments’ 2K, or SR Research’ EyeLink 1000, or a system from a lesser know manufacturer! 😉
I agree that the low-cost trackers should find their main market among non-academic consumers, which makes it tough: There are little useful applications, and eye tracking doesn’t seem very applicable in gaming either. Until you consider it’s potential in virtual reality! That also seems like a major reason for EyeTribe being bought by Facebook/Oculus; I’m sure they’re looking into integrating both technologies to allow for foveated rendering.
Exciting times, yet still unfortunate that EyeTribe discontinued their tracker, and even more unfortunate that all support immediately fell away. They could have at least kept the SDK download and the forum up.
I just found an EyeTribe post that links to an archived version of the developer site here.
The SDK downloads have been uploaded to github alongside the documentation.
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I just learned from the news that the company no longer produces the device. I found someone who can sell me a new device, however I need to ask you about the software that the device needs. There are two packages: EyeTribe UI and the EyeTribe Server. Is that correct?
My main interest with the device is to track the eye route and focus when watching advertising.
I do not have specialized training in computing, so I appreciate the guidance.
I have one EYE Tribe eye tracker. works well i used it in my Final year project. after that i never even touched it so its like new.
So if there is anyone interested to buy one. Let me know.
How much are you selling?
Ship to Singapore the fee will be how much?
I’m also looking for someone who is selling an EyeTribe eye tracker.
If anyone wants to sell (or knows someone who’ll sell) a (proper working) device please contact me: