Welcome Stranger to OCC!Login | Register

Tobii Tracker 4C Review

   -   
» Discuss this article (0)

Tobii Tracker 4C Use in Games:

I wish I could say it was all as easy as starting up a game and playing, but that was not universally the case. In some cases it works well right out of the gate, and in another case it seems to be barely functional. At least in one case the game itself runs poorly for me to begin with, so the issues may be stemming from that and not the tracker or its software.

I want to start with Elite: Dangerous, which is the only game currently supporting the beta head tracking of the Tracker 4C, and Tobii was kind enough to provide a key for it specifically for testing. It is an MMO space simulation game that puts you in the cockpit of a ship and lets you loose on a galaxy to explore. I have no experience with it prior to using the Tracker 4C with it, so I am not yet competent with the controls (something I am sure the video I recorded captured very nicely).

With eye tracking, I am able to look around and through my ship's forward facing windows, but there is a limitation to how far I can look, just using the eye tracking. I would describe it like being able to look through any part of a car's windshield, as opposed to just the portion immediately in front of the driver. It might not sound like much, but it actually is really nice being able to look around like this, seeing space as well as all of the controls and panels within the ship. Without the eye tracker you need to press a button to bring up some of these panels, but by just looking to the correct side, the panel automatically appears for you to interact with.

Head tracking expands on this as turning my entire head to one side or another is reflected in the game. Continuing the car analogy, it is like turning to see through the side windows, or even the passengers in the back row, if you aim your eyes over as well. Of course in Elite: Dangerous your ship also has a window on top, and with the Tracker 4C I can look up and watch ships passing by above me. It really is cool to do that in a dog fight and it makes a huge difference in keeping track of where your enemy is.

 

I have run into two issues while playing Elite: Dangerous, but one I believe is my fault. That is how close I will have my head to the monitor, causing the Tracker 4C to lose track of my eyes and head. When I remember to sit back, the game behaves much better. Unless, that is, I have the Gaze Overlay enabled. I am not sure why or exactly what happens, but with the overlay active, Elite: Dangerous will behave as though the gaze vectors suddenly flip direction and I will be looking at the floor in one frame, the sky the next, and then anywhere in between. There is the easy solution of not having the Gaze Overlay on, which is a little disappointing, because I would like to show you where I am looking and how the game behaves. Luckily only Elite: Dangerous suffers from this issue (and maybe it will be fixed in the future, especially as the Tobii software I am using is in beta).

Instead of going to another game that worked very well, I want to cover one that apparently struggles with the tracking data: Tom Clancy's The Division. Unlike Elite: Dangerous, The Division does not require the Infinite Screen Extension to work. Under settings you enable support from within the 3rd Party tab. It has several options to choose from here, so you will want to experiment with them. The issue I ran into is not so much with these options but that with the game running the gaze tracking is intermittent. I was able to determine this by enabling the overlay and watching where it said I was looking. For its part, The Division was correctly behaving for where it thought I was looking. I am not sure why I was experiencing this behavior, but I would accept an explanation involving my CPU struggling to run both the game and the code it uses for interpreting the eye tracking data.

Ignoring that issue, the implementation of eye tracking in The Division is hit or miss, largely because of it being a third person shooter. The ability to select cover to move to by just looking at it is pretty nice, but being able to move the camera to look around is very awkward to me. Being third person, the camera has to move around your character, which is not a great point of reference to use, and it is almost impossible to return to the normal, neutral position with just your eyes. The aiming with your eyes is also a neat feature, but only in theory here. It seems like the game only considers the horizontal position of where I am looking, so when I hit the button to enter aim mode, I may still have to aim up or down.

Some other features The Division has for eye tracking are the ability to look around the mega map, hiding the HUD when you are not looking at it, and using your gaze to prompt interactions with objects around you, instead of requiring your character to physically turn towards them. The map implementation is neat, but it does not pan around the map and you cannot zoom with just your eyes, so this feature is not all that valuable to me. Hiding the HUD works much better, when the tracking issue I mentioned earlier is not occurring. To be clear, the HUD is not completely hidden, its elements are just made very transparent until you look at them, so the map is only clearly visible when you look in that corner. The object interaction is neat, but I am so comfortable with just turning my character, it is not really important to me.

All in all, none of the Tobii implementation in The Division really jumps at me, but by just enabling those features I like, the eye tracking can add to the experience. Part of this is just because The Division is third person, unlike the next game, which is a first person shooter.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the newest entry in the Deus Ex franchise and one of the newest games to support Tobii eye tracking, at the time I am writing this. Many of its options are identical to The Division, but being an FPS really helps them feel appropriate. With my weapon aimed in one direction, I am free to look around a much larger area. I cannot completely turn away from the direction my weapon is pointing, but it is still like comfortably moving my head around while holding something still in front of me.

 

The Aim at Gaze option works as you would want it to in Mankind Divided, with it actually bringing the scope to wherever I am looking, with some adjustment needed from the mouse. Without some kind of aim assist, chances are you will not be aimed at the enemy you want to be immediately, but that is hardly a problem.

One option that is unique to Mankind Divided is the Icarus Dash at Gaze. In the game, the Icarus Dash is a special ability that will launch you in a direction. With this option enabled, you can control that direction with your eyes, so you can have your gun up and even in aim mode, but by looking off to the side, you will dash in that direction instead of forward.

 

Mankind Divided with Tobii eye tracking is a much tighter experience than The Division offers, and works better too. I am only left wishing I did not have so many issues recording in Mankind Divided. (The recordings can take a second to start, crash after a few minutes, and what is recorded can have a lot of stuttering.)

The last game I tested the Tracker 4C with was Master of Orion, a space-based strategy game and something my computer, for some reason, struggles to run. The integration here functions a lot like that for the mega map in The Division, with the gaze selecting the specific point of interest to highlight. With the press of a button, you can pan around the map using your gaze. Discounting the performance issues I generally have with the game, the eye tracking actually seems to work well here. I wish I could say more but I cannot because the game is practically unplayable with the performance problems I suffer from with it.

 

With that, I have covered a first-person space sim, first person shooter, third person shooter, and a strategy game. I think that is a decent breadth of genres and specific implementations to move on to the conclusion.

 

Conclusion:

From set up through use I have covered the Tobii Tracker 4C, a rather unique product. It adds new ways to interact with games that can complement traditional methods, and these new interactions can be pretty cool and useful. You can look around without having to move your aim off of a target or change the direction of your movement. Combined with something like the Icarus Dash in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, one's ability to move around the map without directly aiming in that direction can really add to your mobility and experience. Aiming where you are looking is a neat feature too, but is going to take me awhile to get used to it.

In a simulation game like Elite: Dangerous, the tracking truly does add another level of immersion. The ability to just look up without having to push any buttons or move the mouse makes such a difference. As more games add support for Tobii eye trackers, I am certain the head tracking the Tracker 4C also offers will be taken advantage of as well, and that is something I am particularly looking forward to.

Without a doubt, the Tracker 4C is currently a niche product, because while it can add a lot, eye tracking in games is still a new concept, but it is gaining momentum. Currently there are over 40 games that support Tobii eye trackers, but the company expects there to be over 100 by the end of 2017. My personal suspicion is that this number will continue to grow, especially as VR matures and grows in popularity. There is definitely overlap between the capabilities of the Tracker 4C specifically and the head tracking VR systems currently enable, and while the head mounted displays will have technical advantages over the Tracker 4C, they cost more than $149 and require more than a USB 2.0 port to work. (By the way, I seem to recall reading at some point that VR headsets will likely come to incorporate eye tracking systems for that extra layer of interactivity but also to intelligently reduce the detail in the periphery of a frame.)

Only you can decide if this peripheral is worth getting, but I can tell you that I enjoy using it and am looking forward to future game reviews where I can put it to use. With time this may become a more and more desirable product for you.

 

Pros:

  • Add layer of immersion and control (head tracking in Elite: Dangerous)
  • New means of controlling characters in-game, separate and complimentary of traditional methods
  • More games coming with eye-tracking support
  • Only requires a USB 2.0 port

 

Cons:

  • Still early in adoption amongst games
  • 80 cm long USB cord (you will probably want a USB extension cable)
OCC Gold



  1. Tobii Tracker 4C Review - Introduction and Closer Look
  2. Tobii Tracker 4C Review - Use in Games and Conclusion
Related Products
Random Pic
© 2001-2017 Overclockers Club ® Privacy Policy
Elapsed: 0.1353271008   (xlweb1)