Futurism |Oculus Officially Owns an Eye-Tracking Company

In Brief
  • The Eye Tribe has introduced a $99 eye tracking device developer kit for computers, and software that can bring gaze-based interfaces to smartphones and potentially virtual reality headsets.
  • Oculus has officially acquired the Danish company in hopes of integrating the technology into their VR technology, and maybe even tracking Facebook users.

A New Pair Of Eyes

Virtual reality (VR) company Oculus has acquired an innovative Danish startup, a move many believe will go a long way in streamlining VR product development. The Eye Tribe, a Copenhagen-based company, specializes in tracking user eye movements — definitely a key asset for VR.

Since its inception in 2011, The Eye Tribe has come up with an add-on hardware device for phones, tablets, and PCs that functions as a gaze-based interface. This gives users the ability to navigate their gadgets using only their eyes. Foveated rendering, which sharpens the VR scene only in the spot the user is looking, allows the headgear to save space and power. Further, EyeProof analytics, a cloud-based platform, claims to be able to process which areas of the screen users look at the most by following their gaze.

Looking Ahead

It’s fairly easy to see why a VR company would snatch up The Eye Tribe. Now that touch-based controllers are out, the obvious way to get ahead of the game is to go hands-free. Aside from the promising a more immersive gaming experience, eye-tracking tech offers increased accessibility options for people with disabilities, security for logging-in to personal accounts, and even utility for car interfaces.

What’s probably particularly attractive for Facebook, Oculus’ parent company, is the EyeProof software’s ability to point out which parts of the screen are prime advertising space. If the tech is taken far enough, marketing companies could even use data mined from eye-tracking to measure exposure, by seeing how long users pay attention to their ads.

This year was promised to be the one for VR, but so far, results have fallen a bit short of expectations. It’s a nascent field that is in the process of coming into its own, and if we’re rooting for VR to get it’s gears going, acquisitions like these are exactly what we like to see. With that said, we’re all looking forward to 2017, when hopefully, VR could finally take over.

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