Integrated eye tracking in virtual reality just graduated from a concept into a real thing thanks to the efforts of SMI and Tobii, with both companies demoing their technology in a fully-integrated HTC Vive headset. The end results of each of the different eye-tracking solutions were visually indiscernible; both integrations feature a ring of illuminators around the lenses, and both have the cameras installed behind the lenses.
Both were impressively accurate, non-obtrusive (it's no longer a sensor bar bolted into an HMD), and easy to calibrate (so long as you don't wear glasses, like Seth Colaner, our News Editor). SMI and Tobii's demos were inherently different, but they were similar in nature, showcasing the use cases for eye tracking within VR. However, whereas Tobii showed us the basics (targeting, social, and NPC interaction), SMI also showcased foveated rendering techniques.
Having two different eye-tracking technologies competing against each other in the same market space (in this case, HTC Vive integration) presents developers and consumers with an interesting choice. Does one choose SMI for its low-cost integration (the parts still cost under $10) or Tobii for its relationships with big-name publishers (which, in theory, could manifest more games developed specifically for Tobii)? The answer to that likely depends on which side of the developer/consumer table you sit, but having two eye-tracking technology companies is better than one, and it portends a possible long-term play of an ecosystem of HMDs with different levels of features and quality.
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