SMI Eye Tracking Creates Thrill in Survival Horror Game

While at the IFA in Berlin, new trends for consumer electronics are presented, SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) introduces a completely new form of user experience for video games powered by SMI’s contact-free eye tracking technology.

The experimental survival horror game called “Sophia”, created by game designer Martin Dechant from University of Regensburg, uses real-time information on the gaze behavior of players to adapt the story of the game. A player’s gaze triggers unexpected events leading to an individual experience, more thrill and ultimately more fun. The idea of this passive gaze interaction goes far beyond active eye control, e.g. where the mouse is replaced by eye gaze. The game analyzes the user’s gaze to generate individual real-time content and user feedback. The goal of SMI is to further study and refine the “Sophia” concept in cooperation with the developer of the game and to use it as a blueprint for gaze interaction in other application fields.

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SensoMotoric Instruments has more than 20 years of proven track record in eye tracking technology. SMI’s RED-oem platform ( is a flexible tool which allows enterprise customers to integrate eye tracking with their own applications and products. For individual developers who would like to implement gaze interaction applications, the affordable gaze tracker myGaze® can be purchased at the web store of SMI’s OEM partner Visual Interaction at

The implementation of passive gaze interaction in “Sophia” is based on general eye movement patterns of experienced gamers. These were revealed during extensive eye tracking studies from the media computer science group of University of Regensburg. Objects appear or react and events change according to the visual focus of the player. Spiders are falling from the ceiling, fire starts to burn. The gaze data is also linked to special sound effects created by Filippo Beck Peccoz. Also active gaze control elements are used in the course of the game, such as gaze puzzles or special functions which can be activated with eye blinks. Sophia is developed by using the 3D Unity engine and Blender for maximal compatibility with standard gaming platforms.

Martin Dechant, Game Developer: “I have tested Sophia with experienced gamers and feedback was very positive. Overall, they thought gaze interaction was really cool. The gaze interaction elements smoothly integrate into the flow of the game.” 

Christian Villwock, Director SMI: “Sophia outlines the added-value gaze interaction can bring to games and even more targeted application fields. For customers who seek to integrate eye tracking and gaze interaction with their own application, SMI’s RED-oem platform and SDK is the most flexible high performance solution in the market.“

Dr. Christian Wolff, University of Regensburg: “With many horror games on the market, the promise of thrill and suspense often is not matched by the gaming experience as events are foreseeable. Our studies on gamers’ gaze behavior were of great importance in creating this completely new gaming experience with Sophia.”


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