CES 2019: HTC unveils eye tracking HMD with Vive Pro Eye

HTC will bring gaze-oriented navigation with the new Vive Pro Eye.

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HTC had quite a bit of news to drop on virtual reality users this CES, including the unveiling of Vive Pro Eye, a new integrated eye tracking hardware that will make virtual reality even more inclusive for professional VR users.

While the product itself isn’t available just yet, it won’t arrive until the second quarter of 2019, HTC showed off the HMD with built-in eye tracking at this year’s CES. According to the original release information posted on the official HTC Vive blog, Vive Pro Eye is targeted at the enterprise market, where eye tracking has proven to have a considerable number of benefits, including accessibility, performance and overall improvement potential for training applications. HTC unveiled the Vive Pro, stating that it will allow business and developers to gather data about their virtual training environments, while also removing the need for controllers by offering gaze-oriented menu navigation and more.

Vive Pro Eye showcasing MLB Home Run Derby VR
Users have a chance to try out the Vive Pro Eye at CES 2019.

Despite the heavy focus on enterprise, though, the technology was showcased at CES 2019 using MLB Home Run Derby VR, a video game currently available on Steam VR. In the demonstration, users were able to control the menu completely without the use of the controller. Jamie Leece, the Senior Vive President of Major League Baseball’s Games and VR division, stated “We’ve invested in VR technology to bring fans a fun immersive experience and connection to our game and deliver a new level of engagement through VR game competitions.”

Leece continued by saying “By integrating eye tracking technology into Home Run Derby VR, we are able to transport this transformative baseball experience to any location without additional controllers needed. Our fans can simply operate menus by using their eyes.”

While the Vive Pro Eye might seem like a novel idea, technology like NVIDIA's foveated rendering, which provides high-resolution imagery where the user is looking, allowing the rest of the image to be reduced to save on performance, make it a promising upgrade for Vive users who want to get the most out of their VR headset. Of course, the Vive Pro is the most expensive iteration of the Vive headset so far, and while no pricing on the Vive Pro Eye has been released, I’d wager it’s probably going to come in close, if not higher, than the Vive Pro’s current cost of $799.

Of course, we won’t know the pricing for sure until HTC announces it themselves, so keep an eye on our CES 2019 hub for the latest announcements and news from this year's tradeshow.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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