Eye-Tracking and the Implications for VR

So, Kevin just found this on Oculus’ job listing page:

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Whether it makes it into the final product or not, Oculus is genuinely interested in eye-tracking.

This is amazing news, and it would make sense if this is the feature that reporters have been unable to talk about. Eye-tracking isn’t the most obvious exciting feature, but it makes a huge difference in immersion, especially with NPC and multiplayer interaction.

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Have you ever been in a video chat? Your and your friend’s eyes will never line up with each other. The only way to look straight into their eyes is if you look at your camera, but then you won’t be able to see them! There’s a similar problem in video games, as characters may be able to look at you, but they have no way of knowing you’re looking back. There’s no recognition that you’re paying attention to each other, so eye contact in games feels off-putting.

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But with eye-tracking, these characters will feel staggeringly real, even if they’re non-human models! Not to mention what it’ll be like to meet a real person online and be able to look into their eyes! I’d say that this seemingly tiny difference is what could make VR feel like reality. If you can make that kind of instinctive emotional connection without meeting in real life, people will have even less of a reason to leave their homes.

Which might be a bad thing, but who knows! Eye contact increases empathy, so maybe it’ll be a net good!

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