Eye tracking is looking like the next big thing for VR, and HTC has already shown interest in the technology. The company also says it's serious about bringing this technology to the mainstream market in its VR headsets.
In HTC's Vive X accelerator program, startup aGlass already offers developer kits for eye tracking lenses that can be slotted into the Vive. With Tobii's eye tracking now embedded in Qualcomm's latest standalone reference headset - an assortment of tech that VR companies will draw from - it's sure to get a lot of momentum in the coming year.
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Daniel O'Brien, HTC Vive general manager, said that the company is working on ways to get the tech into headsets. "We're absolutely thinking about that," he told Wareable. "We have a lot of partners we're working with that are working on that. But it's not always just about coming up with the technology. We come up with the technology, we introduce it to our developer community, we get their feedback and whether or not they think it's useful and what eyre going to use it for. And then we introduce it to media consumers."
Not only will eye tracking hand developers a remarkably powerful tool for games and experiences, it will allow headset manufacturers to improve power efficiency with foveated rendering, the technique of reducing resolution in the peripheral vision to lessen the power load.
"I think its a super important to incorporate into VR and AR products in the future," said O'Brien. "I think it's going to be really helpful to the wireless, because right now we render entire panels because we don't know what your eyes are looking at, so we rendering at 90fps, an entire panel. Eye tracking will actually take it down and make it more efficient and effective."
With news that the standalone Vive Focus is going to be launched globally this year, another thing on HTC's mind is what people will play on it. O'Brien believes the demographic will be generally different to those of Vive and Vive Pro users, something more aligned with today's smartphone gamers. "We need to build the right content that's really exciting for that audience too," he said.
"Because they're not necessarily the Fallout 4 gamer who wants 100 hours. They're more casual gamers, they're more people looking for fun, maybe even learning experiences. And I know I keep going back to it, but the professional market is extremely excited about the all-in-one."