Beginners Guide to VR Eye Tracking: The Latest Hardware, Software, and Current Use Cases

Updated: Mar 16

What is VR Eye Tracking?


VR Eye Tracking is the ability of a VR headset to monitor a user's retina location, motion, and depth of gaze to provide insight into the user's vision patterns. Eye-tracking has been around since the early 1900s and has since seen many iterations of technology to improve the information that is being gathered. Now that VR hardware & software companies have been developing VR eye-tracking tools, industry leaders are beginning to see why VR will drastically affect their current and future research initiatives.


Photo Creds: Tobii Group

Why VR Eye Tracking?


Traditional Eye-tracking glasses gave insight into the user's gaze of real-life environments, or their gaze of virtual environments through the use of laptops. These are excellent tools but have limitations as real-life environments only provide insight into one physical space. Virtual environments allowed researchers to explore a variety of potential scenarios and collect a range of data points, but since the user is navigating the environment using a computer, the eye-tracking outputs are limited to the physical screen size of the device. VR Eye Tracking combines these two in a better way. A VR headset provides a full field of view that allows the user to gaze in any direction while navigating a virtual world. The potential of what seems like a small innovation opens many opportunities for researchers to collect more valuable information about the user.


Current VR Eye-tracking uses


Research - Professors and Market Research Firms are beginning to use VR to understand human behaviour. A critical contributor to increasing adoption for this user base is the Eye-tracking capability. The data collected while in VR can give insight about the person like no other. Businesses are able to analyze specific information about their customers like never before. Imagine a business was trying to determine which new product label design works best on their candy bar. With VR researchers can quickly test multiple product design options and locations within the store in real-time. This is an excellent method for market researchers conducting A/B testing. Now with Eye-tracking researchers can also monitor how long one person is staring at a particular area, generating heat maps of their gaze to see which products are piquing interest in shoppers. Lastly, tracking the path a user walks throughout the store can also be monitored to see which parts of a store generate the most foot traffic and how long a user stands in a particular spot.


Healthcare - Eye tracking has been a common method for detecting concussions for many years, but with the new age technology eye tracking has helped medical practitioners to diagnose a variety of diseases including ADHD, OCD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's. Eye-tracking also provides a communication tool between a medical practitioner and patients with impaired motor skills, as the eye movements can be translated into communications like yes or no responses and item selection.


Software Players:


Tobii Eye tracking:

Tobii is an industry leader in eye tracking, both in VR and Non-VR situations. Their software has been available for use for 15 years, with many iterations and upgrades along the way. Their technology has been integrated for markets such as Gaming & entertainment, Assesment & Therapy, Medical Technology, Industrial Production, and Automotive. To learn more about Tobii’s products visit here: https://www.tobii.com/tech/markets/

Photo Creds: www.tobiipro.com

Varjo VR-1 20/20:

Varjo VR-1 comes with the 20/20 Eye Tracker, our integrated eye-tracking functionality. You can use eye tracking in your application, and you can log the information about their gaze for analytics. Eye-tracking can also be used for interacting with content: you can use it for selecting objects or prompting additional information about a specific object by simply looking at it.


Hardware Players:


HTC Vive Pro Eye

HTC has partnered with the leading eye-tracking software Tobii to create the first headset with integrated eye-tracking, the HTC Vive Pro Eye. This will be the first major push into the early adoption of eye-tracking for businesses as they have an extensive head start combining both the hardware and software. By doing so HTC has drastically reduced the price point for businesses to integrate VR eye-tracking into their operations. The HTC Pro Eye provides a new way of interacting with virtual scenarios with its gaze-oriented navigation. It also has foveated rendering to optimize the performance by reducing the power required by the GPU. These 2 features alone are a great improvement on the traditional HTC Vive, especially for business applications. The Pro Eye will also recognize blinking and facial gestures which can be transcribed onto a user's avatar, giving a realistic experience in multiplayer environments. You can learn more about the HTC Pro Eye here: https://www.vive.com/eu/product/vive-pro-eye/


Varjo - VR1

Varjo has focused heavily on training applications for high-risk careers including pilots, surgeons, industrial engineers, and heavy machinery operators. With this focus, their headset needs to have the best specs to recreate these dangerous training simulations. The Varjo has a “human-like” resolution displaying 60 pixels per degree within the headset. This clarity combined with the 20/20 eye tracker makes it the most accurate eye-tracking headset on the market. It also comes with an easy to use API for developing custom software for your business. The Varjo VR-1 integrates with 12 well-known development and game engine software. To learn more about the Varjo VR-1 visit here: https://varjo.com/vr-1/

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