FOVE, the company behind the eponymous eye-tracking VR headset, today announced that they will be showing off a new industrial design at both Comic-Con and SIGGRAPH 2016 where attendees will have a chance to demo the new headset design themselves.

Fove4
Previous FOVE design | See Also: FOVE’s Eye-tracking VR Headset Was the Next Best at CES

The newly revealed design differs from the most recent prototype by doing away with the rigid plastic wrap-around piece (as on the right), and opting for a head strap and cable-management system that appears to be similar to the HTC Vive’s.

With Fove tightening down on ergonomics, which they say is an effort to bring eye-tracking to virtual reality “while remaining a lightweight VR headset,” it certainly feels like the Japan-based company is inching closer to a launch date.

Fove co-founder and CEO Yuka Kojima says “getting the new design ready for Comic-Con and SIGGRAPH was one of the major milestones of our summer,” and further teases that “…we will have some more exciting news very soon.”

fove-new-design-2016
FOVE’s new design showing Vive-like strap system

FOVE’s Journey

Fove raised $480,000 on Kickstarter (along with an undisclosed amount from Samsung Ventures) in summer 2015 to manufacture their eye-tracking headset, a technology that’s useful for a number of important applications such as foveated rendering, avatar eye-mapping, simulated depth-of field, and eye-based user interfaces. The technology is generally considered a necessary ‘next step’ for VR headsets.

NVIDIA's 'contrast preserving' foveated rendering
See Also: NVIDIA Says New Foveated Rendering Technique is More Efficient, Virtually Unnoticeable

Fove later participated in the River accelerator program early last year alongside a number of other “frontier technology” startups. It wasn’t until March of this year though that the company secured serious funding to further realize their eye-tracking VR headset, seeing an $11 million Series A investment round that was set out to “support [Fove’s] goal of accelerating mass production of the device in the Fall of 2016.”

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The company has since released their SDK which allows developers to integrate Fove support for projects built in Unity, Unreal Engine, and CryEngine.

“Eye-tracking is going to change the way we play games, watch interactive stories, and socially communicate online,” Kojima maintains. “I’m excited to demo our new headset design to fans, peers and our growing base of development partners.”

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  • Mario Baldi

    I like it!

  • Get Schwifty!

    Exciting times in the VR world…. I think they are on the money that eye-tracking is going to be key in refinement of the technology and is the key link in making things even more interactive (its about more than controllers after all). It will be interesting to see how Oculus and Vive move on the question of eye-tracking and foveated rendering.

  • J.C.

    So does this mean they’ve mostly solved the fresnel lens issue in these headsets? Because currently, looking much further away from dead center is a visual mess ANYWAY. Tracking eyes for foveated rendering seems pointless when it’s still going to be a smeary mess if it’s not in the middle of the lens.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think eye tracking IS important, but solving the lens issue is equally, if not more, important.

    • psuedonymous

      Eye tracking is an integral part of ‘solving the lens issue’. Because looking around involves your pupil physically moving about, you would ideally change the pens pre-warp parameters dependant on pupil position. This obviously requires knowledge of the pupil position. Without it, your options are to optimise the warp based on the pupil being in the centre (looking straight forward) and have the image progressively degrade off-axis, have a warp that looks ‘least bad’ across a range of pupil locations but is optimised for none, or use more exotic optics (fresnel and hybrid lenses) to expand optically the pupil exit box. A combiantion of optics and eye tracking would allow for a large range of tradeoffs than optics alone.

      • George Vieira IV

        Is prewarping actually possible to accommodate off center viewing?
        If it is, would that take away the performance benefits that foveated rendering promises due to the overhead of constantly re-warping?

        • Adrian Meredith

          Probably not gen 1 but of course it’s possible and the GPU will be able to churn into such things quite easily.

          • Jeremy Swanson

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t off-center blurring caused by lens issues rather than rendering?

          • DonGateley

            Yes, but knowing where one is looking through it allows for some serious compensation. A cure for all intents and purposes.

        • Jack H

          It depends:
          if it is the same sum or look up table no matter whether it’s regular or eye-tracked warping, then should take exactly the same time, unless waiting for the eye gaze variable to be placed as the frustum parameter takes a very small amount of time extra.
          If the equation needs to be solved for every eye-tracked frame whereas it’s static in the regular version then it may take a bit longer.
          The pre-warp should compensate for some but not all lens effects.

  • Ainar

    She said “more exciting news very soon” but it’s been a month and we haven’t heard anything. Not to mention nobody seems to have covered Fove’s presence at the mentioned events. This is the hmd I’m most interested in but I’m worried about how little information there is around about its progress.