HTC is opening new possibilities for accessibility and hands-free interaction with the announcement of a new variant of its high-end Vive Pro Virtual Reality headset at CES 2019 that comes with native, built-in eye tracking. The device, named Vive Pro Eye, promises to bring higher-quality VR experiences, owing to a technique called foveated rendering that renders sharp images for wherever the human eye is looking in a virtual scene and lessens the image quality of objects on the edge. The company hasn’t disclosed the price yet, but it is considered to launch in the second quarter of 2019.
HTC’s eye tracking technique opens up a range of possibilities for VR that contains higher-quality images, but also newest types of hands-free interaction in VR and accessibility options for those who don’t have the ability to utilize full motion controllers. Envisage being able to quickly open menus, explore a library of titles or even the open web, and choosing objects in a virtual environment by just concentrating line of sight. HTC is demonstrating eye-based controls with a Major League Baseball app that they named MLB Home Run Derby VR that is set to launch in the second quarter this year.
Previously, the computer manufacturing company offered a kit that would add eye tracking to the original Vive. Other VR devices have also featured it, including the more niche Fove headset. This new headset takes it a step closer to becoming a core headset feature, more willingly than a specialized option. But it is still not a massive step, because the Vive Pro is a costly product designed for professionals, with the headset alone currently selling for USD799.