A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the acquisition but declined to cite the terms of the deal, according to Venture Beat.
Started in 2011 by four students from the IT University of Copenhagen, The Eye Tribe set out to make eye tracking more accessible to the masses. The company promises that it can enable eye control for consumer devices “that enables simplified and enhanced user experiences,” which makes it a good fit for Facebook’s Oculus division.
The Eye Tribe started out with a developer-focused product, selling 10,000 units of its eye-tracking system to embed into hardware devices. It also has a consumer product line, and this year it launched a prosumer version called The Eye Tribe Tracker Pro.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey reportedly called eye tracking a “critical part” of VR technology’s future.
He told Upload VR in 2015: “We’re researching everything. I’m very, very in tune with what’s going on in eye tracking research in Oculus.” When pressed for more information Luckey said, “It’s definitely not being ignored, but I can’t say much about it.”
Even with Luckey’s transitioning role, Oculus hasn’t shifted away from this thinking. Nor have other companies such as Google, which picked up Eyefluence, a competitor to The Eye Tribe that had raised $21.6 million in venture capital. By comparison, Facebook purchased a company that raised $5.32 million in funding from investors such as Startup Bootcamp and Richard Sanquini, including grant money from The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.