Oculus has acquired eye-tracking startup The Eye Tribe in a bid that could bring more intuitive controls to virtual reality. Both companies confirmed the deal but declined to comment on other details, including financial terms and whether all of The Eye Tribe’s employees are joining Oculus.
Founded in 2011, the Danish firm is best known for creating software developer kits that bring gaze-based user interfaces and controls to smartphones, tablets and PCs. The Eye Tribe has shown their eye-tracking technology working in a range of VR headsets including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Gear VR. It also launched a device called The Eye Tribe Tracker Pro for $199 that can affix to a laptop and control it with your eye movement — that’s pretty affordable compared to similar systems.
The company had raised just over $3 million and was aiming to be a leading provider of eye control technology through licensing, though that’s probably out of the question now.
There is something of an arms race developing between the major VR hardware companies to add more intuitive controls for VR. Just a couple of months back Google acquired Eyefluence, another startup working on eye-tracking technology, as it pursues its own VR efforts.
Eye tracking technology could be a big thing in VR. Aside from giving you the ability to control in-game objects with your eyes, it also key behind a technique called forested rendering, which reduces the load on your graphics card by figuring out exactly where a user is looking to render that at a higher fidelity, while your peripheral view gets rendered at a much lower fidelity.
Ads will eventually make it into the virtual world as well and knowing where the user is looking could be key to Facebook and Google for delivering better advertisements.