FOVE to Bring Eye Tracking to Consumer VR

Colin McMahon
Dec 8, 2016

Silicon Valley-based virtual reality (VR) company FOVE, Inc. is set to brings its first headset to the developer market in January 2017. Simply called FOVE (or FOVE 0 for the developer kit), this will be the first computer VR head mounted display (HMD) to feature eye tracking software.

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The FOVE will feature 2560 x 1440 display and a frame rate of 70 fps. Its field of view (FOV) will be up to 100 degrees, depending on face structure and distance away from lens. At the moment, FOVE appears to be a tethered VR headset, meaning that users will have a cord connecting the device to a PC. The defining feature, however, is eye tracking.

Eye tracking means that sensors in the HMD hardware will follow the user’s eyes and react to where the user is looking. Like in real life, what the user looks at will sharpen – while peripheral images will become less focused. This feature will be much less taxing for processing power, as VR HMDs currently have to fully render each image, regardless of whether or not the user is looking. Eye tracking will also allow programs to respond directly to where the user is looking. For instance, a user wishing to select the “menu” may only have to look at it and blink, rather than move a mouse/controller to the icon.

In addition, FOVE has unveiled plans to implement face-mapping as well. This will allow software on the FOVE to interpret smiles, frowns, and only facial emotions – further deepening the level of user interaction. While all the focus is on FOVE 0 – the version of the HMD for developers, FOVE has unveiled plans for a consumer headset as well, although no definitive release date has been set.

InfoTrends’ Opinion

The FOVE represents the next step forward in VR interfaces. Eye tracking may likely prove to be the next standard for virtual interaction, as it eliminates many of the problems facing motion controls (fatigue, unusable for those who cannot move their arms). Eye tracking can also deepen the experiences in software and applications. Imagine a non-playable character (NPC) in an application that will not speak until it knows the user is looking at it.

In terms of power, the FOVE has specifications to rival Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive – the two most established PC VR headsets. While it does not have the same frame rate, FOVE’s ability to focus its rendering should make it compatible with a wider range of PCs. This will likely lower the entry price for users wishing to take advantage of PC VR.

InfoTrends will be following FOVE closely in the future. We advise anyone with a serious interest in VR to do the same.

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