HTC just upped the ante toward more immersive virtual reality experiences, with the help of none other than integrated eye-tracking.
Using Tobii technology, the new Vive Pro Eye headset is able to follow the wearer's eyes in real-time, which lets developers know on exactly where they're looking and when.
Theoretically, this opens the door for brand-new and more realistic VR experiences. Not only that, but eye-tracking also makes way for foveated rendering, which is just a fancy terms that means VR is about to get more gorgeous graphics.
HTC Vive Pro Eye
Eye-tracking has a number of implications, all of which could bring VR to a new, heightened direction. Chief of them is foveated rendering, as mentioned, which takes advantage of the headset's eye-tracker to adjust which parts of a scene get priority when processing graphics.
Because it knows where the user is looking, it can dedicate a larger chunk of the processing power toward rendering that scene. Consequently, the headset can dial back other images in the peripheral vision to save power.
Foveated rendering could make VR experiences feel more real because it mimics the way eyes work, where peripheral vision is naturally blurred.
Why Is Eye-Tracking So Important?
Why is that important? For one, it could reduce the graphics requirements of most VR apps. More importantly, it allows developers to increase the fidelity of whatever is in focus.
That gives way to even more possibilities, such as no longer being required to use additional controllers for menu navigation — users can just look at an option and the headset will automatically detect it. This could make the VR experience not only more dynamic and intuitive, but also easier. As impressive a technology it is, most people complain that VR is too complicated and overwhelming. Eye-tracking makes it less so.
The Vive Pro Eye improves upon the Vive Pro's rendering capabilities nine-fold, according to Chris O'Connor, technical director of ZeroLight. The company was just at CES showing off shopping and car customization apps for the Vive Pro Eye, and according to those who got to try it, they worked pretty well.
HTC also teased yet another VR headset that "aims to redefine how VR is accessed." It's tentatively called the Vive Cosmos, which the company says won't require any external tracking solutions and could be powered by different systems, including desktops, laptops, and perhaps smartphones. No further details yet on this one, but make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.