Eye tracking is something that hasn’t been implemented in many games, but it could be common place when the next generation of virtual reality headsets rolls around. When we chatted to Tobii president of business development, Oscar Werner, he suggested that most VR systems would incorporate eye tracking in the future.
Tracking a users eyes used to be very expensive. Even now looking around at some of the commercial options, you can spend hundreds, or thousands of pounds to enable eye tracking. While we’ll get to our review of Tobii’s affordable eye tracker in the near future, one area that many people expect eye tracking to take off is in virtual reality.
Foveated rendering is one reason it will be incredibly useful – though we hear that can work on 2D displays too – but it also has the potential to improve immersion through tailoring your view to what you’re actually looking at, rather than where you head is pointing. We already know that the Fove VR headset incorporates it and that Tobii is working with StarBreeze to add it to the StarVR IMAX headset, but there are likely many more designs in the works too.
“I think VR is super good use for eye tracking. It’s super powerful, you save on the GPU […] with Google buying an eye tracking company too, it proves how viable it is as a technology,” Werner said.
He is of course talking about Eyefluence, the company Google purchased in late October. It is expected to incorporate the eye tracking technology in its own VR ventures.
With Tobii hardware going into the StarVR, we pressed Oscar to see if he would reveal any other projects that the company has in the works. Laughing, he responded that he didn’t want to announce any other company’s hardware for them, suggesting there are plenty more eye tracking headsets on the way.
When will we see these headsets? Again he remained coy, but agreed that much like the chicken-egg scenario where early VR needed some seeding to get the content ready so people wanted to buy headsets, eye tracking needs full developer support to be fully implemented from the ground up. Only then will we see people really excited about the technology.
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KitGuru Says: Eye tracking is fun and an interesting input method for systems. I think it has a lot of potential, but as Werner says, we need those games that support it first to really make it viable.