Facebook looks to up the Oculus ante by investing in eye-tracking technology.
With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time to start looking toward the state of virtual reality in 2017. There’s been a host of exciting announcements in the past week alone, but one of the most notable bits of information was just released yesterday: Oculus has acquired eye-tracking technology developer, The Eye Tribe.The Danish start-up released $99 eye-tracking device developer kits for computers in the past, as well as software that sought to bring ‘gaze-based’ technology to virtual reality and smartphones. Maybe even more excitingly: Eye Tribe developed a rendering system for VR that generates perfect images only in the direction in which each eye is looking. This saves an immense amount of computational power since the system doesn’t have to render the entire virtual world all at one time.
The company’s cofounder Sune Alstrup explained more about what the technology could do to TechCrunch back in 2014: “This technology can basically go into any kind of device, everything from your smartphone, to your watch, or your car to automatically detect if you’re falling asleep behind the wheel, or in games where you could use your eyes to shoot. This is the kind of technology that’s applied in fighter planes today, it’s million dollar technology that we’re bringing to the mass market.”
Now the company will be bringing this exciting tech to Oculus, hopefully adding a whole new dynamic to the already impressive headset. With Google buying out eye-tracking developer Eyefluence a while back and other companies making similar purchase throughout this past year, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of the gaze. Or year of look? Some, like Joshua Kopstein of The Intercept, have expressed concern over the amount of data VR will generate for companies to mine and exploit. Given Facebook and Google’s respective positions as leading social and information companies, some might take this as a sign to alter or limit their participation in VR.
Guess we’ll see in 2017.