Many good stories have come out of Scandinavia over the centuries and the most famous of these are the fairy tales. In all fairy tales the heroes have to go through much hardship to reach their goals and often they are tested and have to show great feats of valor and ingenuity to surpass the hardships. The story of The Eye Tribe is not so different from the fairy tales, except for the obvious lack of shining armor, maidens in distress and faithful steeds… although none of the four founders are afraid of jumping onto a bicycle to get around Copenhagen.
The story of the Eye Tribe takes its beginning seven years ago at the IT University of Copenhagen, where the heroes of our story were toiling with their PhD studies. They worked on creating an eye tracker that would be cheap enough for private households to afford, but without losing any of the accuracy of the very expensive systems already available. The goal was to make it possible for severely motion-disabled people to communicate more easily (and cheaply) with their surrounding world using only their eyes. Within a couple of years their little group of dedicated researchers was considered to be among the best in their field in the world, and eventually their goal was reached. In 2009 the ITU Gaze Tracker saw the light of day, and soon after the altruism of the group became clear, as they made all their know-how available on the Internet. Today the ITU Gaze Tracker is the most downloaded open source eye tracker in the world, and it has helped improve the lives of numerous people in need for eye tracking.
During their early work the four researchers began thinking of ways to take their technology further; ideas of how this technology could help not only people with disabilities, but everyone in their day-to-day life, were among these. It became clear to them that even more commitment was needed to make their dreams of making eye tracking available for everyone, and so they decided to join the Startup Weekend Mobile event held in Copenhagen in June 2011. As it turned out the experience was a great eye opener for our four founders/researchers. They learned that they needed the assistance of others in order to succeed in reaching their goal, but even more so that the goal was reachable indeed. In that weekend they succeeded in producing a working prototype, a feat that would not have been possible without the collaboration of other skilled professionals. That prototype was called Senseye, and the company we now know as The Eye Tribe was born.
In the months following Startup Weekend things were accelerating at a rapid pace. The four founders were hiring new employees and expanding their company. They posted a video on youtube that went viral and spawned great interest around the company, and soon companies from all over the world were contacting them with different kinds of offers and suggestions. They participated in various competitions and programs with great success, and gained much feedback and even more attention from it. Eventually, The Eye Tribe was accepted into the European StartupBootcamp accelerator, which was a big step on the way to reaching their goal.
Later, even the Danish politicians noticed the new company and they appointed The Eye Tribe to the Scalelt program, catapulting the company across the Atlantic to Silicon Valley, where they were introduced to the American entrepreneurial spirit and forged strong business relations. In 2012, about a year after the company was founded, The Eye Tribe raised 1 Million US dollars in funding from a group of European investors. The Eye Tribe is now leading a 4.4 Million US dollars project co-founded by The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation to develop eye control for mobile devices.
In the world of eye tracking, the four founders and their team have found a way to combine working with something that truly interests them and helping people to an easier day-to-day life while simultaneously creating a strong and thriving company. Today The Eye Tribe has expanded their team to include 16 full time employees; people with knowledge and skill sets that make the company even better at building eye tracking software and applications for a range of devices. In April 2013 they demonstrated the world’s first Android eye tracking tablet.
The Eye Tribe is quite simply the embodiment of entrepreneurial spirit and technical skills joined with altruism and ingenuity. They work hard towards their goal and they meet the future with a welcoming gesture and confident open minds.