Eye-tracking for VR [virtual reality]

meeka-eyeI just found a really interesting article in my Reader. It’s about eye-tracking technology and its use in [some] games.

The current interface requires a learning curve to use without, imho, much added value. That said, I have to admit I don’t play first person shooters, or the kinds of games where speed and twitch response are key.

There is one area, however, where I can see this technology becoming absolutely vital – and that’s in VR [virtual reality]:

Eye-tracking is critical to a technology called foveated rendering. With it, the screen will fully render the area that your eye is looking at. But beyond your peripheral vision, it wonโ€™t render the details that your eye canโ€™t see.

This technique can save an enormous amount of graphics processing power. (Nvidia estimates foveated rendering can reduce graphics processing by up to three times). That is useful in VR because it takes a lot of graphics processing power to render VR images for both of your eyes. VR should be rendered at 90 frames per second in each eye in order to avoid making the user dizzy or sick.

A brief explanation is in order for non-gamers. Currently, there are two ways of viewing a game:

  • from the first person perspective
  • from the third person perspective

In first person perspective, you do not see your own body. Instead, the graphics attempt to present the view you would see if you were actually physically playing the game.

In third person perspective, you ‘follow’ behind your body, essentially seeing your character’s back the whole time. This view has advantages as it allows you to see much more in your ‘peripheral’ vision than you would if you were looking out through your character’s eyes.

In VR, however, the aim is not just to make you see what your character sees, the idea is to make you feel that you are your character. A vision system that mimicked how your eyes work by tracking your actual eye movements would increase immersion by an order of magnitude. And, of course, the computer resources freed up by this more efficient way of rendering would allow the game to create more realistic graphics elsewhere.

You can read the full article here:


I predict that voice recognition and eye tracking are going to become key technologies in the not too distant future, not just for games but for augmented* reality as well.

Have a great Sunday,


*Augmented reality does not seek to recreate reality, like VR. It merely projects additional ‘objects’ on top of the reality that’s already there.

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

6 responses to “Eye-tracking for VR [virtual reality]

  • George

    Foveat rendering (or something similar) is working on some first person shooters and it does indeed show much promise in reliving stress from the GPU. (The game i can remember right now is the latest Shadow Warrior.)
    The current VR implementation has solved earlier problems in regards of the dizziness and fidelity of graphics in a way that is more approachable now to a lot more people.

    VR (and computing/tinkering) now has something that wasn’t there before. Indies. Yes, the first wave of stuff made for VR would be shooters to get to know VR and its kinks. However i sense that many are now developing “escape the room” type games. Or look at “Job simulator”. Or “elevator simulator” (God that thing almost caused me fear of heights…)
    There’s also “I expect you to die” and yes it is from the old Bond movies “No Mr Bond! I expect you to die!” (You are a private eye and someone is trying to kill you and you have to save your self.) Saw another short demo that there’s a scene being played back, and you try to solve what is going on by freezing time and trying to see everything around you.

    Having said that, i think AR is more interesting that VR in the long term. Cause AR devices have the potential of doing both in the end ๐Ÿ˜€


    • acflory

      Thanks, George. I haven’t experienced any of that in the games I play, so it’s interesting to see where it’s already taking hold. I agree, though, AR is the next real step forward. Just so many uses for it.


  • Candy Korman

    Back in the early 1990s, I was the marketing director for a virtual reality applications company. I feel like I’m going BACK in time instead of forward, as the new VR is the old VR. It’s better. Yes, it’s better. But some of the same issues come up for the user side of the interface and some of the same lack of creativity hampers the development. How many shooter based games do you want to play?

    I’m happy that your definitions are cogent. My hope is that 20 years from now neither of us is explaining VR (again). LOL!!!


    • acflory

      lol – you keep surprising me! I don’t have your background in VR but I remember people touting the ‘new’ voice recognition software…in the 1980s. As far as I can tell, it’s improved, but not /that/ much.
      I actually think augmented reality will be the next big thing, not VR, despite the hype. Interesting times. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • davidprosser

    Thank you for the explanation.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


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