The Eye Tribe is a cheap eye tracker. Cheap as in really cheap. As in 100 times cheaper than the competition. As in $99 when other eye trackers cost thousands of euros.
When the Eye Tribe was released in late 2013, its price tag was revolutionary. Competitors quickly followed, and right now there are several cheap eye trackers on the market—thanks, at least in part, to The Eye Tribe.
But it seems that I should say: The Eye Tribe was a cheap eye tracker. Because earlier today, I, and with me many others (see also Edwin Dalmaijer's post), received the following disturbing email from them:
Unfortunately, we’ve decided to go in a different direction with our technology and will stop development of our products.
So what happened? There's no news from the company other than this email, and a similar email sent to people who pre-ordered the now-cancelled Eye Tribe Pro, which was set for release in early 2017. They have removed all products from their website. But no explanation.
I'm sure we'll learn more in the future, but for now I can think of three plausible reasons for this surprising development:
- Perhaps they simply went bankrupt. The $99 price tag may have been too low, causing them to lose money despite—I assume—selling a large number of eye trackers.
- Perhaps they have been sued by another eye-tracker manufacturer—murder through litigation. If you search on Google, you'll find several references to Tobii, manufacturer of another cheap eye tracker, suing The Eye Tribe. I'm not sure how reliable those references are though, so I won't link to any.
- Perhaps they have decided that there are better ways to make money than building their own eye tracker. For example, they may have partnered up with tablet manufacturers, shifting their focus toward integrating eye trackers into tablets and other mobile devices.
This is all just speculation, of course. But what is certain is that the disappearance of the Eye Tribe is a great loss.