Windows Hello, Reliability, and Conclusion

Beyond Eye Tracking: Windows Hello

The Tobii eye tracker is a combination of projectors and sensors: the tracker projects a pattern of NIR (Near-Infrared) light, which reflects off the user's eyes and is captured by high-frame-rate cameras. These cameras can then measure the independent position, depth, and motion of the user's eyes.

While this process produces a pretty ugly view from the perspective of a traditional camera, it's accurate and secure enough to be used as a Windows Hello-capable device. So you won't want to use the Tobii eye tracker as a webcam, but Windows 10 users will get the bonus feature of being able to unlock and log into their PC's just by sitting down in front of the Z27.

Reliability Issues

In my time with the Acer Predator Z271T, I was able to run through the setup and calibration process, enable and test Windows Hello, and play about half a dozen Tobii-compatible games. I would have loved to play more games, record some video for you with the Streaming Gaze Overlay software, and otherwise further test the monitor's eye tracking technology, but the eye tracker failed on me about three days into testing.

While the monitor itself continued to work just fine, the tracker would suddenly start to shut itself off as soon as "heavy" eye tracking began (the red lights on the Tobii sensor bar would disappear and Windows would report that the device had been disconnected). Completely power-cycling the monitor would bring it back temporarily, but as soon as I started playing a game or running through the calibration process, it would die again. No troubleshooting steps, including swapping cables, reinstalling drivers, or even switching PCs could solve the issue.

So, while the Tobii eye tracking tech in the Predator Z271T was promising while it worked, we weren't able to experience the full range of its features and now have some concerns about the technology's reliability, at least regarding its implementation in this particular Acer display. The issue we experienced may be unique to our demo unit, but Acer was not able to resolve the issue by the time of this review's publication.


From VR and AR, to high refresh rates, to HDR, there are a number of technologies and factors all currently in motion in the PC gaming industry. Each of these technologies has its own unique advantages and disadvantages but, interestingly, something like Tobii eye tracking, especially as implemented in Acer displays, is taking a slice from all of them.

Tobii users get a bit of the immersion from VR (by being able to manipulate the game world just by looking around), the quick response and low latency of high refresh rate displays, and a taste of the stunning visual offered by HDR displays and content (thanks to the “Dynamic HDR” feature). But some of these features aren’t naturally implemented outside of their native formats, with features like gazing to move the camera or select on-screen items feeling clunky and out of place. There are definitely some great features of the Tobii tech in the Acer Z271T, such as the Dynamic HDR and Auto Pause, but far too few games currently take advantage of them.

Make no mistake, Tobii eye tracking is far more than a gimmick, and when it works well it’s quite impressive. But with the current state of software support, the high price (again, you’re looking at $700 for a 27-inch 1080p display), and the reliability issues we encountered, Tobii eye tracking has a long way to go to achieve relevancy in mainstream gaming.

If you’re keen to try eye tracking for yourself, you can pick up the Acer Predator Z271T from Newegg or Amazon, and you can also buy one of Tobii’s standalone eye trackers to add the feature to your existing monitor.

« PreviousNext »