November 7, 2016 / 7:50 AM / 4 years ago

Eye-tracking firm Tobii to raise cash for virtual reality, smartphone investments

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish firm Tobii on Monday announced plans to raise 450 million crowns ($50 million) in a rights issue to invest in technology for virtual reality and smartphones.

The company’s eye-tracking technology helps disabled people use computers by identifying where they are looking on their screens.

“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,” it said in a statement.

It said it would use the money to build up market-leading positions in virtual reality and smartphones.

Dell, Acer and MSI have already released computers that integrate Tobii’s eye-tracking sensors, and some 40 games with support for Tobii’s technology have been launched.

The firm said a large smartphone maker has chosen its technology for one smartphone model.

Tobii’s system uses invisible infra-red light to illuminate the eyes. Camera sensors capture the reflection off the retina and cornea to gauge where the eye is, and where it is looking.

In a sign of the technology’s increasing importance, Alphabet Inc’s Google bought eye-tracking firm Eyefluence last month.

Tobii said shareholders representing approximately 40 percent of its voting rights have already expressed support for the rights issue.

Assuming it is approved, Tobii plans to invest approximately 150 million crowns in virtual reality and another 150 million in smartphone technology between 2017 and 2019.

Shares in Tobii are trading roughly flat year to date but are up almost 170 percent since going public.

Reporting by Mia Shanley and Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Jason Neely

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