Saturday, November 27, 2021

Game Simulations

Gaming Simulation and RC Cars and Truck reviews. Articles on hardware, software and other game related matters.

Tobii Eye Tracker 5 Review
/ Categories: Games

Tobii Eye Tracker 5 Review


This is an independent review of the Tobii 5 eye tracker - purchased with my own funds.

Like many of you, I found myself with a few extra hours during this ongoing COVID crap. I spent my first months since March 2020 updating my gaming PC and Racing Rig, and in my usual perfect timing, I upgraded my CPU/motherboard right before the next-gen Intel was released and thus settled on an i9 9900K- oh well. 

Now that I have an upgraded PC, I became interested in eye/head tracking to enhance my gaming hardware/software. Although I was thrilled with my triple monitor set up, I found myself wondering if this Head/Eye thing could bring value/benefit to my game simulations? To clarify, I do mostly race sims and driving sims - such as Project Cars, Truck Simulator (American/European), F1 2020, Assetto Corsa Competizione, iRacing. Now I do some Hunting with The Hunter Call of The Wild, etc...You get the idea.

After watching several videos, as many do, I was compelled to give Tobii's 5 Head and Eye tracker a try, and this is where my disappointment sets in.  My first challenge was attaching this to my monitor - the instructions call for attaching a self-sticking metallic bar to the bottom of the monitor and then attach the Tobii (*The Tobii uses magnets). My first challenge was using a Fanatec DD2 Direct Drive that almost rests at the bottom of the monitor. Hence, I elected/had to attach the Tobii on the middle of the lower bezel using the supplied metal sticky bars. Calibration worked fine in this position without any problems. Calibration of the Tobii was quick and painless - Tobii got that part nailed.   However, after a few days of use, the "sticky" tape gave way, and the Tobii fell off the monitor. I re-applied using some Gorilla tape, aka duck tape. Thus the mounting Tobii calls for is hit or miss, most monitors and game rooms become hot, and the glue will in most cases give way to the weight of the tracker, not a good thing when you are on the last lap of one of your best races.

Tobii is an expensive piece of hardware for what it offers over your much faster hand mouse combination. In almost every game, I was more accurate and faster just using mouse input over moving my head or eyes, and secondly, the frame rate was much better. Many games support button boxes, and many racing wheels feature programmable buttons that allow looking left/right with a button push.

When using a triple screen with ETS 2 or American Truck Simulator, my average frame rate was around 90, depending on weather and location.  I decided that maybe it was more beneficial to use a single monitor with a higher frame rate with the head/eye tracking to give me the left and right views as I moved my eyes/head, similar to my triple screen. Sorry to say, Tobii Eye/Head tracking was very spotty, and I could never get the optimal settings dialed in - either it was too laggy, flickered between the left and right views, or not reliable.  Keep in mind this is software running services in the background and sharing your game resource and memory. - thus, if you already are low on computer resources or FPS, the Tobii setup hurts in that regard and does not bring any true measurable benefit to the gaming experience.

I found nothing amazing about the Tobii device, especially if you are using a triple monitor setup. In fact, Tobii's eye-tracking support will not work with Windows eye-control with multiple monitor arrangements, and the Windows message is no supported device connected. I run Windows 10 64bit 2004 version (the latest version) - and guess what? When I attempt to enable eye control for windows 10, windows states, I don't have a supported device. This is after I uninstalled and reinstalled my Tobii drivers because Tobii does not support more than one monitor. Thus, any benefit other than gaming is lost if you have more than one monitor.

Let me mention the limited game software support for this device, go to the Tobii site and check out the slim offerings for yourself.

Also to note is the privacy rights - while Tobii states it does not capture eye/head information about the games you play - some of their add on software do if you elect to use them. As stated, this is all for the "betterment of the experience." Also, Tobii offers License options to companies to use head eye-tracking information - Humm... It sounds like company X can gather what I am looking at on the company x site if they buy a license from Tobii. For this reason, I keep a towel covering the tracker when I am browsing the web and not being used for gaming.

The one bright spot for Tobii Eye Tracker is if you play The Hunter Call of the Wild - Tobii will assist with AIM and spotting animals/calls. When Using Tobii in COTW and an animal calls out, you can hit E to identify without turning toward the call. Likewise, if you look at an animal with your binoculars, your binoculars will be pointed at the animal without you having to try to find the animal as would normally be the case, so in the COTW hunting simulation, there is some benefit as Tobii does assist with Aiming and "Gaze."

In conclusion, - head and eye-tracking devices are mostly fade technology looking for a solution. I would suggest you Forgo head/eye-tracking hardware altogether and invest in a second monitor or a better gaming mouse/keyboard - you will be much happier.

My summary:  Not worth the price. Head Eye gaming benefits are negated when using a triple monitor setup. You are better off upgrading other gaming hardware instead of dropping over $200.00 on a Tobii head eye-tracker.  I would suggest the excellent Logitech G903 gaming mouse and PowerPlay recharging mouse pad in place of a Tobii, or buy yourself a nice programmable button box.


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