Tobii Chief Eyes Gaming, Automobile Markets for Rapid Growth

Swedish startup Tobii AB says eye-tracking sensors like the ones it makes could eventually be included in 1 billion devices such as computer screens, virtual reality headsets as well as smartphones and tablets. 

More than 90 percent of the company’s sales currently stems from two markets -- hands-free interaction technology for disabled people and research solutions for human behavior scientists. Tobii’s Tech unit builds eye trackers for a burgeoning wider market, targeting tablets, automobiles, high-end gaming monitors and computers, Chief Executive Officer Henrik Eskilsson said in an interview at the company’s Stockholm headquarters.

“We’re talking about 1 billion devices that ultimately should have this type of sensors,” Eskilsson said. "It will take time, but that’s what should happen."

Eye tracking sensors let devices know exactly where a user’s eyes are focused and can be a complement to a mouse or finger swipes. Investments in Tobii Tech negatively impacted group earnings by 101 million kronor ($12 million) in the first half of the year. Growth in the wider market could help the unit stand on its own legs and let Tobii reach its target of positive cash flow in 2018.

The company is likely to continue to increase its investments and cost base in Tobii Tech, the CEO said. While it’s still early days, the company sees potential to "create something very big" in Tobii Tech, he said.

Eye-tracking technology is now mature enough for so-called early adopter consumers, and Tobii has bagged its first design wins. A handful of big game titles such as Deus Ex, Tom Clancy’s The Division and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate support eye tracking, according to the CEO.

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