- Martin Lindgren
- May 30, 2017 | 4 min
Introducing the Eye Tracking VR Devkit for HTC Vive
This is an instrumental milestone for Tobii, as it is the first step in our strategy to enable software development of games and applications that make use of eye tracking in VR. It also enables our technology partners in VR to explore how eye tracking will fit in the VR ecosystem.
“When we started building our eye tracking platform for VR, we took a look at the marketplace for VR and found three major types of head mounted displays (HMDs) being developed by the market.”
- HMDs that are tethered to a PC or a gaming console such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
- Untethered/standalone HMDs that have all the processing power inside the unit
- Mobile snap-ins such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream.
We chose to use the HTC Vive as the base platform to build our prototypes on, since it offered the most fully realized vision for VR upon its release. Now that we are launching our first developer kits with retrofitted eye tracking, it’s only natural to make them available on HTC Vive.
Tobii’s Eye Tracking VR4 Technology
Tobii’s VR4 technology is a reference platform we designed to support ALL three categories of HMDs. It is built on the strong foundation of knowledge and experience Tobii has in eye tracking for PCs, tablets and from Tobii Pro’s Glasses 2 product that has been in the market for some time.
“Eye tracking is proving crucial for VR, and we see significant traction and very positive reactions to our VR4 technology.”
Now that VR4 is ready for integration into HMDs, Tobii is working closely with industry partners and customers to bring HMDs into the marketplace with Tobii eye tracking capabilities.
Video: How Does Tobii Eye Tracking in VR Work?
Four of the most interesting use cases for eye tracking:
1. Foveated Rendering
Briefly explained, foveated rendering is about only rendering with high resolution in the area where users are looking, and consequently rendering at lower resolution everywhere else.
“Foveated rendering will enable savings on rendering capacity, which is interesting for HMD manufacturers.”
Of course, all of this is only possible with knowledge about where the user is looking.
2. Eye Position
An eye tracker is designed to know the position of the user’s eyes. That data allows graphics to be rendered corresponding to where the eye is in real-time. It also enables the eye tracker to help the user position the HMD correctly on their head, aligning the lenses with the position of their eyes.
3. Social Cues
In any application where the user is represented by an avatar in VR, eye tracking plays an important role to reflect each user’s eye movement on the avatar. Multiplayer gaming, virtual chatting or meetings are just a couple of the applications that can make the most of this opportunity.
Also, objects and NPCs can be gaze aware, reacting to user gaze and behaving naturally.
4. In Game/App Interaction and Immersion
Gaze information from the user is innately a window into their intentions. Before interacting with any object in an application, a user will first look at that object. This means that an application developer has the opportunity to create applications that are aware of the user intent and what he or she is about to do, thus making VR more immersive.
The often cumbersome or awkward task of picking up something in VR will suddenly be very simple. Just look at what you want to pick up, press a button, and voilà you have it in your hand.
Where can I test eye tracking content for VR?
Learning from experience, we know that no technology is successful without content.
That’s why we’re releasing Tobii’s VR4 for Vive Kit, to catalyze the development of content with eye tracking. Any developers who want to be ready when HMDs with eye tracking arrive can now start exploring what’s possible.
Interested in getting the Tobii VR Development Kit?
Head over to developer.tobii.com/vr-devkit and submit your interest for a Devkit.
We will contact you with information on pricing and availability. Due to a limited initial supply we cannot guarantee that all interested parties will be able to get their hands on a unit!