With Facebook recently announcing they are working on eye-tracking technologies for the next revision of the Oculus RIFT it’s almost certainly going to become a new buzz word within the VR community/industry as well as laptop, tablet and phone manufacturers. In the article below we are going to learn what this new tech is and what we can expect from it.
Eye-tracking in name is quite self-explanatory, it is a camera or system of cameras by which a computer can located and determine the area you are looking at on a screen/monitor. Of course it’s not the camera that’s doing the work though, and in terms of the current big names, it is Tobiis eye-tracking software that makes this tech possible. We have had this and similar tech for years now however as of the past 15 or so years, it’s been used for gimmicky arcade style shooter in which you look at a person or object to shoot it. However since the re-emergence of VR, the technology has received a breath of life in the form of Foveated imaging (also know as Foveal Rendering).
Foveated imaging is a rendering technique that has the potential to make vision in VR almost complete. One of the biggest issue with HMDs in terms of immersion and side effects is how our eyes focus. At the moment not matter how immersive the video is in terms of scale and graphics, we are still practically sticking a flat screen as close as possible to our face, all in focus, with blur only around the edge of the lenses rather than the peripherals of our direct focus. It allows for things such as genuine motion blur whereas current headsets can only emulate motion through post-processing effects.Even once we are out of the headset, without Foveated imaging your eyes are going to either ache or struggle to focus on objects that are either close or far from you. This is because our eyes are naturally always focusing/un-focusing dynamically to make sure we have the best vision of whatever we are trying to look at, and of course without eye-tracking this is impossible to replicate.
The ability to replicate genuine focus and depth of field takes the Visual level of VR to another level of immersion, surpassing the AMOLED virtual boys* we call VR at the moment, and this is extremely exciting given the immersion you already get from the current generation of headsets.
*This is hyperbole. For first Gen the current HMDs are amazing.