Tobii Raises Big New Funding Round to Improve Eye Tracking

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Steve Anderson
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Tobii Raises Big New Funding Round to Improve Eye Tracking

Tobii has been around for some time now--I remember hearing about them at least a couple years ago when they were working on eye-tracking systems. They're still working on them, at last report, as they're working to bring in an extra $50 million for development. To get there, Tobii's planning a new launch of share rights issue.

Tobii's been working on its offerings since 2001, and has already found itself in a variety of machines ranging from Acer to Alienware and beyond. Indeed, Acer's already put the system in three monitors, and there are around 40 games that work with the eye-tracking system as a control mechanism.

Better yet, this isn't Tobii's first time raising money; back last year, it raised $70 million before it took on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, and with its arrival in public trading, it rose to nearly three times its initial public offering (IPO) price. With the new cash on hand, the company plans to "...make substantial investments in technology and market development," a concept that will serve it well given the comparative lack of commercial knowledge of Tobii products out there.

Henrik Eskilsson, Tobii's CEO, commented "The interest for eye-tracking in various consumer applications has developed at a substantially more rapid pace than we anticipated at the time of the IPO in April 2015. At that point, we believed it would take a longer time for eye-tracking to become current for use in smartphones and VR-headsets than what we see today. The capital raise of just above SEK 400 million that was conducted in connection to the listing is sufficient to complete the business plan we decided on then. But to create the conditions to take a leading position also within these new segments, we now need to further increase our efforts in market and technology development. We are convinced that the time is right to expand our investments and that there is good potential to create great value for our shareholders.”

No matter how you slice it, 40 games and three monitors, along with some other equipment loadouts, is not going to be enough to carry a technology line. It's going to need more games, some stand-alone units, a decent entry-level price point and a good marketing campaign behind it to carry the day. With the VR / AR markets set to hit around $150 billion by 2020, it's a market to get in on, and Tobii may well have the means to do it, perhaps the ultimate answer to the question of how we control VR and get around within these artificially-generated worlds.

It's entirely possible that Tobii could be a big deal in the VR and AR markets, but it's going to need some extra punch to get anywhere. With the kind of cash it's looking to raise, and that it's already raised, it may just have the necessary extra power to come out on the other side a real winner.

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