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Valve and SMI team up to bring eye-tracking tech to the Vive and OpenVR

Valve and SMI team up to bring eye-tracking tech to the Vive and OpenVR

February 27, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

February 27, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: VR, Console/PC



Valve is looking at ways to bring eye tracking technology to its open-source OpenVR platform and has teamed up with SensoMotoric Instruments in order to achieve those ends.

According to Tom’s Hardware, the two companies are collaborating to bring the technology to OpenVR and have already shipped a handful of eye tracking-enabled Vive headsets to select research partners around the globe to further study the tech.

Built-in eye tracking technology could be a game-changer for virtual reality while also benefiting VR game developers on multiple levels. For example, a VR headset that tracks eye movement could replace controllers as a way to interact with menus or objects. 

But, as noted in the full Tom’s Hardware story, eye tracking enabled headsets unlock access to alternative rendering techniques that reduce the strain on VR hardware by dropping the quality of anything being rendered outside of a player's focal point. This practice frees up resources and opens the door for the creation of more demanding virtual reality games down the line. 

Other major virtual reality players have also been eyeing similar technology. Facebook-owned Oculus acquired eye-tracking specialist The Eye Tribe earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. Starbreeze’s StarVR has also dabbled in similar technology in the past, and expects that the third development iteration of its yet-unreleased headset could feature eye-tracking tech.



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