HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset with Foveated Rendering

At CES in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled an upgrade to its Vive Pro VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye, featuring integrated eye tracking for in-app controls, analysis of user attention and foveated rendering. The last item relates to the ability of cameras in the headset to precisely track the position of the eyes’ pupils to enable the GPU to focus processing on that location. With foveated rendering, the GPU is said to save 30 percent over its power, which can be used to conserve power or increase detail within the rendered area.

VentureBeat reports that, “Vive Pro Eye is specifically being marketed at enterprise customers, and HTC suggests the still-unconfirmed price will be another step up from Vive Pro.” Likely customers, said HTC, are “luxury retailers, businesses seeking new communications tools, professional athletes, and other enterprise users.”

Another advantage of the Vive Pro Eye is its speedy setup that allows use with manual adjustment relegated to “turning an IPD knob to properly align the displays horizontally with your eyes.”

At CES, HTC demonstrated the new headset with a ZeroLight BMW test drive, which combined eye tracking and foveated rendering for a “retail showroom style VR walkaround of the BMW M5, plus the opportunity to sit down in the car and watch it take off at a racetrack.”

Another demo was the MLB “Home Run Derby VR,” which “used eye tracking in a basic way, permitting gaze alone to enable or disable menu settings by flipping switches if you looked at them for a few seconds.” This enabled a gamer to “completely do away with a traditional controller for the purposes of starting up a game,” although HTC doesn’t believe gamers will be the primary purchasers of the Vive Pro Eye. Sports training apps, however, may be a good application.

Ovation also showed “a public speaker training app that uses eye tracking to make sure you’re properly focusing on your audience, rather than on your teleprompter or notes, when addressing a crowd,” and the headset’s gaze tracking was also used with Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D flight simulator, as an augment to the physical flight stick and throttle controls as well as “to activate the numerous subsystems within a fighter jet for a drone shoot-down mission.”

HTC Vive Pro Eye Hands-On: Everything Is Prettier With Gaze-Tracking, Engadget, 1/8/19
HTC Vive Pro Eye – Hands-On at CES 2019 (video), Digital Trends, 1/10/19

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