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Fove head mounted display expands possibilities with eye-tracking technology

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July 27, 2014

The Fove is a head mounted display that packs eye-tracking technology

The Fove is a head mounted display that packs eye-tracking technology

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Back in 2011, Google filed a patent for an unlock system for Google Glass that would use eye-tracking technology. Tokyo-based startup Fove believes the combination of a head mounted display (HMD) and eye-tracking technology has far wider applications and is working on just such a device aimed at the consumer market. Microsoft apparently agrees, having accepted the company into its Ventures Accelerator in London earlier this month.

Like the Oculus Rift, the Fove HMD uses a variety of sensors embedded in the headset to track head orientation, including a high-refresh gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer sensor. An external unit is also used to track head movements. However, in what the company says is a world first for consumer-oriented HMDs, the integration of eye-tracking technology gives Fove another level of user interaction.

Instead of relying on hand-based input devices like a games controller or mouse, which the Fove says often don't lend themselves to a deep 3D environment, the Fove's eye tracking lets users control things with their gaze. Aiming weapons in a first person shooter, smarter enemies that are able to exploit a user's blind spot and virtual characters able to recognize where the user is looking in an interactive movie and reacting accordingly are just some examples of the potential for the technology highlighted by the company.

Fove's eye-tracking technology could allow virtual characters to recognize where the user ...

In addition to another level of user interaction, the company is also claiming that its device offers a greater level of visual immersion. Unlike other HMDs that have a uniform sharp focus across the entirety of the displays, the Fove actually adjusts focus of a scene by determining where in the 3D space the user is looking through tracking their gaze and parallax. This is where the Fove derives its name from, referring to both field of view (FOV) and the fovea centralis (generally known as the fovea), which is area of the retina responsible for sharp central vision.

Not only does this mimic human vision in the real world by blurring the areas that the user isn't looking at directly, but it also allows computing resources responsible for rendering a scene to be allocated more efficiently.

In addition to the obvious gaming applications, Fove also holds potential in amusement park installations and medical applications. Using software it is developing in cooperation with the Japan's National University Corporation and the University of Tsukaba linked Kirigaoka Special Education School, the company says patients with restricted use of their hands can simulate using a mouse and keyboard through the eye-tracking capabilities of the device. Additional research onto the device's potential in virtual communication therapy for autism patients is also being conducted.

Those with restricted use of their hands could use the Fove to simulate mouse and keyboard...

Having completed development of its first proof of concept, Fove has recently been accepted into the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, with the company set to look at a possible future partnership with Xbox for the device. It plans to unveil a prototype device and preliminary details of an upcoming SDK at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Pitch day to be held in December and is also planning to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign early next year.

The following teaser video gives a glimpse of the Fove's eye-tracking capabilities.

Source: Fove

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
5 Comments

It might save lives if adapted for detecting drowsiness in a driver.

Mel Tisdale
28th July, 2014 @ 06:37 am PDT

Right now, with Facebook's deep pockets invested in it, I think Oculus Rift is still the tech to beat. But competition keeps everybody sharper, and giant corporations have destroyed their acquisitions with mismanagement before.

btw, I found the provided video at the bottom of the article to be a useless bit of glossy 'gee wiz' fluff.

yrag
28th July, 2014 @ 06:51 am PDT

I hope the resolution-adaptation based on gaze direction isn't considered patentable, it was obvious at least as far back as the early '90s when the idea of retinal displays (direct projection onto the retina with higher resolution for the fovea and higher refresh rate for peripheral areas) was being proposed. Mechanical and optical design difficulties and safety concerns held implementation back, but it isn't a new idea.

EH
28th July, 2014 @ 11:02 am PDT

Love the Rift competition! Eye-tracking in a headset will definitely expand VR functionality and immersion.

A bit on eye-tracking in general:

I've thought for a considerable time now that eye-tracking and fovea emulation would allow even very cheap graphic cards to give a single viewer the illusion of extreme detail and allow the play of even the most resource-demanding games with full features turned on. With fovea emulation, only a small circle in the area of focus has to give full detail, with detail falling off concentrically the greater the distance from the area of focus. Eye-tracking for multiple viewers is not much more difficult for one viewer. Even a four-person eye-tracking system would allow cheap graphics cards to play Crysis at full features. :)

Eye-tracking would have to be built into the OS but makes most sense for games or graphic-intense applications, so integration into DirectX and OpenGL might be the sweetspot. I'm very surprised that Microsoft, the Khronos Group, or Apple hasn't presented such a solution a long time ago. Accurate eye-tracking has been around for awhile now, and integration into monitors, in a similar form-factor of a tiny webcam, would be inexpensive.

kalqlate
28th July, 2014 @ 11:12 am PDT

Maybe Microsoft should consider convincing touchscreen laptop and touchscreen manufacturers to integrate an eye tracker into the devices’ front-facing camera.

Non-touch UI: Use your eyes to initially eye-teleport the cursor near your target, and then use the mouse to finish the selection (already a feature of the consumer eye trackers that are available now).

Touch UI: If you’re using a touch user interface with larger buttons, like Windows 8 Metro tiles, or Android launcher icons, then you don’t necessarily need the accuracy of the mouse, so you can temporarily put the mouse aside.

Instead, you can touch a “click-what-I’m-looking-at” button on the keyboard.

You don’t have to keep reaching out at a touchscreen, or constantly switching between a vertical and flat touchscreen.

Introducing eye-tracking could help Microsoft further market touch UIs.

Jeff Kang
3rd August, 2014 @ 09:05 pm PDT
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