Eye Tracking is a Hot Topic
SMI has been demonstrating its new eye tracking system lately. It tracks at an amazing 250hz which is faster than the 240hz that our eyes naturally jump around at.
Benefits of Eye Tracking
Eye tracking is something that doesn’t exist in the current batch of consumer vr headsets, but it is seen to be something that is necessary and inevitable.
Eye tracking allows a new level of interaction in VR. For example, your avatar in the game will accurately show where you are looking, which is an important aspect of social VR.
Further, eye tracking allows something called foveated rendering. Foveated rendering means that only the part of the screen that you are actually looking at gets rendered at 100% resolution, and the periphery that you aren’t focusing on gets rendering at a much lower resolution.
This allows the computer hardware to render at two to four times higher resolution given the same hardware. This is an important consideration since expensive computers are required to get the most out of VR. And there is still a huge amount of room for improvement, several more exponential doublings, before hardware limitations are no longer a key factor of consumer virtual reality.
Eye Tracking Coming Sooner Than We Thought
And one of the most surprising things is the cost. While the current technology would cost in the thousands of dollars to implement on a small scale, SMI claims that if it were mass produced, it would have only a marginal cost of less than $10.
Perhaps eye tracking is closer than we thought and it may even make it to the 2nd generation of consumer VR Headsets. It is significant technological improvements like this that will help fuel sales of each succeeding generation. Whereas technology like smartphones is relatively mature without much room to grow from a hardware point of view, we are only just beginning to push to where we need to go with VR technology.
Watch this youtube video to see foveated rendering in action. Notice that part of the scene is focused where the user is looking, whereas the rest of the scene is rendered in less detail.