There's a new project over on Kickstarter that is seeking to raise funds for a virtual reality headset that supports eye tracking. The project, which will cease taking pledges on July 4, is looking to generate $250,000. At press time, there are 140 backers pledging $49,889, with 45 days to go.
Called Fove, the upcoming virtual reality headset allows gamers to aim with their eyes, make eye contact with virtual characters, and view environments that will blur and sharpen based on where the player is looking. The headset also promises to reduce nausea because the user can move more naturally.
Taking a shot at the Oculus Rift, the Fove supposedly won't require gaming rigs with high specifications for "AAA rendering." Yet the company behind the Fove headset recommends a gaming rig with a graphics card that can output a 2560 x 1400 resolution at 100 frames per second over a DisplayPort connection.
The specifications show that the headset renders a 5.8-inch WQHD screen with a 100+ degree field of view and a framerate of 60 fps (90 fps in the future). The two infrared eye tracking systems are rather small and will eventually have a tracking accuracy of around 0.2 degrees and 120 fps per eye. There are also low-latency head tracking sensors.
"Fove enables eye-tracking by incorporating custom small form-factor infrared sensors inside the headset. These sensors bounce light off the retina to register how the eyes are angled," the Kickstarter page explained. "Our unique algorithms can calculate the parallax between the eyes to track and measure depth-of-field focus."
The Fove SDK supports a number of platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, the Unity Engine, Epic's Unreal Engine and Crytek's CRYENGINE. With this SDK, developers will be able to convert their existing content to the Fove ecosystem. Even more, eye tracking can be applied to existing content.
For backers who pledge $349 or more, they will get the Fove VR headset along with the development kit, access to the SDK and forum, documentation, engine plugins and samples. Pledge more than $429 and get a T-shirt and pin along with the headset and development kit. Want the headset two months before the other backers? Pledge $499 or more.
The FAQ revealed that the company behind the Fove HMD doesn't recommend using the device while wearing glasses because some frames will block the eye-tracking sensors. The same holds true with customers who wear colored contact lenses, as they will prevent the eye-tracking feature from recognizing eyes and pupils.
Despite the Kickstarter backer prices, the Fove headset is expected to retail for around $400 to $500 when it ships in Q1 2016. At least, that's the projected pricing and availability date for now.