While Starbreeze Studios’ 5K resolution 210 degree FOV StarVR HMD continues to make waves at conferences and events like E3 and Immersed, it faces an underlying challenge associated with having over the top resolution and field of view. The sheer processing power needed to drive the display is obviously huge and well outside the scope of what most gamers can afford to spend. Without that over abundance in processing power, the VR experience will get plagued with latency and a nausea inducing experience.
“VR is all about experience. When that experience is inhibited by the ability to render realistic and immersive environments, it’s a roadblock to creating world-class content and experiences our customers love and consistently expect us to deliver. Partnering with Tobii, the clear leader in eye tracking, allows us to solve this limitation, benefitting the VR industry as a whole, while also allowing us to deliver the highest-quality and most immersive film and gaming content ever experienced.” – Emmanuel Marquez, CTO, Starbreeze Studios
As we wait for graphics cards to catch up to these house heating graphics card requirements, the next best thing is foveated rendering. The idea behind foveated rendering is it’s an illusion that we actually need to see the whole screen at the same time with equal clarity. Our eyes are only capable of a very limited field of view where the image is clear, and the rest is a blur in the periphery. So why generate all those useless pixels? Instead, foveated rendering works by tracking the user’s eyes and places all the processing power to exactly where the eyes are looking. If it works correctly, the user will experience clarity when much of the screen is a blur, and the graphics card will only have to render a fraction of the data compared to the entire frame.
Of course there are certain interaction benefits with eye tracking like watching game characters stare directly back at you or interacting with your eyes to get through menu systems, etc. However, in the case of virtual reality where the latency is expected to be so low, and the frame rate so high, there is a growing need for the two to go hand in hand.
Tobii Technology specializes in eye trackers, and they have taken a direct interest in the video game market in recent years. Like chocolate and peanut butter meeting for the first time, Starbreeze Studios and Tobii Technology have announced a strategic relationship whereby eye tracking is going to be added to the StarVR HMD prototype. Yay!