HTC’s newest Vive Pro headset adds just one feature to the existing hardware, but it’s a doozy — integrated eye-tracking. Using Tobii technology, the Vive Pro Eye is able to follow users’ eyeballs in real-time, letting developers gather data on exactly where they’re looking and when, and opening the door for new, more immersive experiences. But eye-tracking isn’t just a clever input method. Its existence also enables foveated rendering, a technique that essentially means VR is about to get a lot prettier.
Foveated rendering allows developers to focus their skills in a single area at a time — namely, exactly where the player is looking. The area around the user’s direct gaze is blurred, which means there’s more processing power to make whatever the person is actually looking at as sharp as possible. Foveated rendering mimics the way the human eye works naturally (good luck trying to look at your blurry spots right now), so it’s not even noticeable when it’s in action. All the player sees is a cleaner, more realistic image, while everything else fades into the background and is filled in by the brain.