HTC Vive’s next hardware may not be the new headset you’re hoping for. Rather, it might be a $220 pair of lenses that, besides reducing the processing power needed to run VR games and applications, can track where you’re looking while wearing the headset.
The full name of the lenses are the aGlass, and they’re made by a company called 7invensun which is based out of Beijing. The company and its still-in-development accessory are part of HTC’s Vive X accelerator whose key mission is to help fund the next generation of virtual reality technology.
The lenses will go on sale in China soon for around $220 (£170, AU$290) and will begin shipping internationally sometime in the fall.
The aGlass works by attaching itself to the inside of an HTC Vive headset and will track where your eyes are looking at any given time. This information is relayed back to the PC and can trigger something called foveated rendering – a technique that allows PCs to fully render the place on the screen where you’re looking and blur everything else.
Why is foveated rendering so important to VR? Well, it allows games to look ultra-crisp in the spots you need it to without unnecessarily rendering other parts of the screen that you can’t see. This saves precious processing power and could help PCs that normally couldn’t run VR games very well to run at 90 frames per second.
Other hardware on the periphery
While the aGlass is making headlines for its direct integration with the Vive, it’s not the only eye-tracking hardware out there at the moment. Tobii was one of the first eye-trackers in the market and promised to create “visual hotmaps” for your favorite games like League of Legends.
VR hardware manufacturer Fove already has a dev kit called the FOVE 0 that offers eye-tracking to interested developers, while Qualcomm’s SnapDragon 835 VR dev kit could be a blueprint for building the technology into the next wave of mobile VR headsets.