Eye tracking is a popular talking point among the virtual reality (VR) community at this point in time. It could prove to be an essential tool for creating fully immersive VR experiences on head-mounted displays (HMD) such as the Oculus Rift. However, according to Oculus VR Chief Technology Officer John Carmack, the technology might not be relevant to the Oculus Rift until it advances even further beyond what’s been seen with the Crescent Bay, revealed today at Oculus Connect.
“So there’s two aspects to eye-tracking that it could be used for,” Carmack stated during the ‘The Future of VR’ panel. “Using it just to determine the depth of field has the simpler aspect where all you need to know is where the pair of eyes are, how they’re straight ahead of converging and you can determine a depth of field based on not a whole lot of information there and not necessarily having to be particularly fast. It’s an interesting question as to if that would even be a positive thing though. In VR of course everything is in equal focus, in the real world things are in variable focus. But is that actually a good thing in the real world? Do we want to even emulate that in VR?”
Carmack went to use reference when videogame developers use some of the negative aspects of film making deliberately in their titles. “I wonder if it’s in some ways the same thing. Should we be happy with VR that is in some ways better than reality with an infinite depth of field or not?” Foveated rendering, a process that allows images to vary between fixation points of different resolutions to simulate focus, was then mentioned. Carmack noted that, right now, this technique might not be the best fit for VR based on the current limits of the technology. He suggested that when VR starts using 4K displays then this technique will make more sense.
Of course, this also suggests that Crescent Bay doesn’t utilise a 4K display. Not that this was expected, but Oculus VR is yet to confirm a specific resolution for the device. VRFocus will continue to follow Oculus VR and the Oculus Rift going forward, reporting back with any further updates on its development.