Star Citizen

Tobii Eye Tracker 5 thoughts


This is just a collection of thoughts and personal opinions on two bits of hardware that do very similar things. For context, I've been a user of TrackIR 5 with the Proclip since… AC was a thing. Back when we had hack it with python scripts and VJoy to make it work in game. So, 6 years or so as a dedicated TrackIR user?

For contrast, I've only picked up Tobii 5 in the last week, so I'm still tweaking settings, learning what works in AC and what may or may not translate as well in the Persistent Universe.


First and most obvious, Tobii provides nearly 100% freedom of personal movement. It connects to the bottom of your monitor and… that's it. No wires, no need to wear anything on you head, just… clip the hardware to your monitor, run through the very quick and simple set up and you are good to go. There are some minor cons to this, listed below.

Tobii Eye Tracker offers simultaneous eye AND head tracking, which may not be obvious at first glance. (Hey, a pun!) This grants the ability to set the percentage you want for each input (at least in SC, cons below). For example, if you want Tobii to just do head tracking, you can set it just that way. 100% eye tracking? Yup. Can do. With a bit of tweaking, you can set it so the camera movements feel almost completely natural, to the point where you don't even notice it's working.

This is a huge, and in my opinion so far, the best, bonus over a pure head tracking option. With head tracking I would turn my head to the right, and strain my eyes to the left to keep the monitor in view, with Tobii… I just… look. If I need to see something quickly, I do what is natural, I flick my eyes over a little and turn my head a bit. There is far less of an eye strain or anything like extreme physical movement, as both eye and head can be combined to be comfortable for your own use.

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Tobii also gives far more visual range than TrackIR did for me, in a way that's both good and bad. Example, if I look (with my eyes, not head) to the left of my screen, the camera moves to that position, but… my eyes (at least for a brief moment) are still looking to the left, so the camera keeps trying to follow where your eyes are. If you keep looking to the left, the camera will keep moving to your eye position. Great for most things, cons below.


I say nearly 100% freedom of personal movement, because Tobii does have a somewhat limited range, so if you tend to sit far from your monitor you might want to measure the distance from the bottom of your monitor to where your eyes/head tends to be and make sure you are in the viable range of the hardware and still in a comfortable gaming position.

The actual software for the device doesn't provide any ability to tweak settings, so you are beholden to the developers of each individual game for any customization. Without the ability to set your preferences at the base software level, you'll be forced to tweak it for each game you use it with, and that'll be limited by how much effort those developers put into the integration of Tobii.

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I'm sure this is just a "new user" thing, but I tend to totally strain my eyes, forcing them to make this thing jump through its hoops. It's easier to just look a bit to the right than turn my head, and I tend to rely on that more than I should. After a bit of time in game, once I forget that I'm using Tobii, that strain tends to go away, so, YMMV.

The Elephant in the Room:

Eye tracking is awesome, but where it totally fails is with interaction with the UI. If I try to read the chat log, my camera keeps scrolling up and to the left until the camera reaches its limit. Just looking straight ahead sets everything right again, but, it's annoying and distracting.

Trying to keep eye tracking on and using Mobi, for me, was an exercise in complete frustration. Thankfully in SC you can toggle the functionality for that stuff.

Nice To Haves:

Tobii software having the ability to set things like curves, responsiveness, head/eye priority is a big one.

Giving the ability to set "UI dead zones" on screen would be nice.

Probably some others, but this is getting long, and I'm almost out of beer.

Is it worth the price?:

I'll never pretend to tell someone what they should spend their money on, especially SC fans. I do think it's a big step up from straight head tracking. A significant step up for SC if you're willing to put in the time to tweak the settings and really personalize it. It's… really nice.

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Would I buy it again knowing what I do now? 100% yes. Though… I might spend a few paychecks putting a little aside each time, instead of buying it outright. Especially if I already had some form of headtracking.

Final Thoughts:

I really like it, and I'm looking forward to when I get it "just right". That being said, it's a luxury, there are cheaper options that get you 80% of the functionality. Better than TrackIR 5? Yup. ~$230 better? Well… that's up to you.


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