Professional-grade VR eye-tracking for $1,599.
HTC announced today their Vive Pro Eye VR headset is now available for purchase in North America through Vive.com and select retailers. Priced at $1,599, this latest iteration builds upon the existing Vive Pro headset and its SteamVR 2.0 tracking with the inclusion of precision eye-tracking functionality, opening up a new realm of possibilities for enterprise VR.
In terms of potential use-case scenarios, the sky’s the limit when it comes to eye-tracking technology. The ability to break or maintain eye contact adds new levels of immersion to collaborative and social experiences involving avatar-based interactions, allowing users to display a variety of expressive reactions and therefore create more personal connections with others. The technology could also serve a purpose in training and simulation-based experiences, allowing companies to track where an employees attention is directed at any given time.
This same technique could also be employed by clients looking to track user attention rates, utilizing heat mapping and gaze tracking to provide detailed data analysis’ in real-time. For example, an employer tracking an employees progress in a VR training simulation could use gaze-tracking technology to identify what parts of the experience captured their attention the most, as well as study their overall thought process.
“Arguably the most important element of communication is eye contact; with the Vive Pro Eye, Ovation can actively guide improvement by measuring and providing feedback on where exactly users are distributing their eye contact throughout a speech,” said Jeff Marshall, CEO, Ovation, in an official release. “Our virtual venues come to life as individual audience members can react with various animations when a user makes direct eye contact with them. As a developer, there’s just no going back once you’ve seen all that eye tracking makes possible.”
Of course, the potential of such a technology extends much further than just enterprise-use. Harnessing the power of eye-tracking opens up the doors to new forms of in-game interactions that could change the way we control certain VR experiences. Navigating menus, selecting dialogue options, triggering certain actions— all interactions that, up until this point, were controlled via standard motion controllers—could benefit wildly from the ease of gaze-based interaction, allowing users to simply look at what they’d like to select. Foveated rendering, a graphic-rendering technique that involves reducing the image quality of a user’s peripheral vision in order to conserve system resources, will also benefit greatly from the accuracy of eye-tracking, resulting in even more detailed reductions power conservation.
“We’ve taken our go-to VR solution for businesses, the Vive Pro, and improved it further with integrated eye tracking. The Vive Pro Eye takes this technology one step further as the demands for enterprise-grade VR continue to grow and evolve,” said Dan O’Brien, GM, HTC Americas. “From more effective training to more insightful data analytics, it provides professional users with the tools to continue improving the way business use VR in an everyday capacity.”
HTC’s most recent use of Vive Pro Eye was at CES 2019 during Major League Baseball’s MLB Home Run Derby VR competition. Participants were able to step up to home plate and smack home runs with a physical bat, using the eye-tracking technology to navigate throughout the menu.
As previously stated, the HTC Vive Pro Eye is available for purchase now at Vive.com and participating North American retailers.
Here’s a full list of the specs for reference: