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5 reasons why eye-tracking sensors will be VR's next must-have feature

VR is in its very early days and we have heaps of problems to overcome both technologically and from a software perspective, but one I hadn't thought of until yesterday has shot straight to the top of my list.

Well, second on my list after wireless VR. But that's another story. Yesterday at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, Swedish eye tracking firm Tobii presented a talk where, naturally, they extolled the virtues of embedded eye trackers in VR headsets.

We've already written a review of Tobii's second consumer-level eye tracker and concluded that it's not the perfect solution for flat screen gaming, and not enough games support it. But at GDC Tobii finally put forward a pretty convincing case as to why we should be demanding eye tracker support in the next generation of VR headsets, and even provided some early in-game examples of how it would work.

I've distilled down my top five reasons why eye tracking will be essential in VR. 1. Performance. This is perhaps the most interesting one, and it's based on a concept called foveated rendering that's come back into popularity because of VR. Foveated rendering takes advantage of how our brains don't bother grab loads of detail from our peripheral vision, instead just taking the bare minimum in and filling in the gaps with what we think will be there.

With foveated rendering, the game can track the user's eye and only render the stuff the player is actually looking at in high detail. This means games can look way better without increasing the graphical horsepower required to actually run them.


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