The world's first eye-tracking virtual reality headset lets users interact with the environment just by looking at it. Matthew Stock took a look for himself.
The days of using your hands to play video games could be in the past. Called FOVE, this headset uses advanced eye tracking to provide the wearer with an immersive and completely hands-free virtual reality. Two in-built cameras seamlessly track the wearer's eyes, with the head mounted display presenting targets or buttons that are activated with a simple glance. Lochlainn Wilson, FOVE's co-developer and chief technology officer, says it's an experience only previously possible in science fiction. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCKLAINN WILSON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER OF FOVE, SAYING: "In the control sense, we enable science fiction-like user interfaces like Tony Stark's Ironman and Jarvis; just at a glance user interface respond and updates information, targets an enemy, hits another button and they're blown up. It's pretty cool in that sense." The developers say their device allows for much more complex and subtle interaction than other virtual reality headsets. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCKLAINN WILSON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER OF FOVE, SAYING: "By knowing exactly where the user is looking, characters in virtual reality can react to your gaze and return it naturally or avoid it or respond or question...But what really sets us apart is eye tracking, of course. So, with eye tracking we enable a whole new world of interaction in VR. We enable really sensitive emotional experiences that could only otherwise be experienced in real life." It's these kind of emotional experiences that the developers hope will also make FOVE a useful tool in areas like medicine and education. To demonstrate its potential, the team built this early prototype they called the 'Universal Piano'. It allows children with disabilities to play the piano simply by looking at the notes in the headset. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCKLAINN WILSON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER OF FOVE, SAYING: "We always thoughts that our technology would have application well outside of gaming. I mean, it's suitable for education, training, research, psychology, neuroscience; there's a lot of fields that can benefit from having this kind of technology." FOVE have now launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter to launch the product commercially, with an expected price point of about $400.