It’s been a long road for FOVE, the creators of the eye-tracking VR headset that hit Kickstarter last summer, but today the company launches pre-orders for their first commercially available product, the FOVE 0. Pre-orders start at a special discount price of $549, available from today until November 9 at 8 a.m. PT (local time), with the price going up to $599 afterwards.

The FOVE 0 will be sporting a single WQHD OLED 2560×1440 display (1280×1440 per eye), 70Hz refresh rate, and about a 100° field-of-view (FOV)—not exactly on par with current PC VR headsets like the Rift and Vive, which both boast higher refresh rates, slightly higher FOV and dual displays for better interpupillary distance (IPD) fit. FOVE however is all about the eye-tracking, and with its 120fps infrared eye-tracking system, it proves to be extremely accurate.

Oft considered the ‘next big thing’ in VR headset technology, FOVE’s eye-tracking capability can be used for a number of important tasks, including creating more realistic avatars with eye-mapping and allowing eye-based user interfaces, but arguably the two most important are the headset’s ability to simulate depth-of field for better immersion and foveated rendering, a rendering technique that when coupled with eye-tracking is poised to deliver impactful savings on computational power.

Yuka Kojima, co-founder and CEO at FOVE says “We believe that eye-tracking capability is the next big milestone in the VR industry and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that technology.”

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Check out the video below to get a better idea how simulated field-of-depth and foveated rendering work.

After raising $480,000 in funds through Kickstarter and an undisclosed amount from Samsung Ventures, 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 production of the world’s first commercially available eye-tracking VR headset.

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

fove_side_white

The company, now headquartered in San Francisco, will be showcasing the final version of the headset during the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) this week in San Francisco. Live demos of the headset, including “Project Falcon”, a first-person rail-shooter developed in partnership with creative production company REWIND, will be held on the show floor during VRDC.

FOVE 0 Technical Specs

  • Display: WQHD OLED (2560 x 1440) 1280 x 1440 per eye
  • Display frame rate: 70Hz
  • Field of view: 90° ~ 100°
  • Tracking sensor: Orientation tracking, Position tracking
  • Eye tracking sensor: 120fps infrared eye tracking system x2, less than 1° accuracy
  • Weight: 520g
  • Connections: HDMI 1.4 / USB 3.0 / USB 2.0
  • Accessories: Position tracking camera / Face cushion

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 or greater
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
  • RAM: 8GB or greater
  • Interface: HDMI 1.4 / USB 3.0 / USB 2.0×2
SEE ALSO
Oculus Job Listing Points to Eye-tracking in 'next gen AR/VR products'

Pre-order headsets will ship to the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.

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  • PianoMan

    I feel this may be the first casualty of the VR HMD market. It’s far too niche and I can’t see developers wanting to work with it, beyond some early tech demos.

    • David Herrington

      Agreed. I do feel eye-tracking and foveated rendering is the “next big milestone in the VR industry” but unless they can just sell their tech to Oculus or HTC then I don’t see this as a competitor. The fragmented market can hardly sustain the few HMD’s we have out at this point.

      I wish we could see into the think tanks at HTC and Oculus to see what they were developing!

    • Walextheone

      Yeah. Can’t see them becoming a success. They need the full ecosystem, touch controllers, software etc. Hopefully HTC or Oculus buy in to this tech or patents.

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      For me indeed more to see the difference with foveated rendering.
      For the rest this device is just outdated and incomplete.

      It is a nice play toy to see their eyetracking tech, but i hope the bigger ones will adapt their tech into their new HMD, as I think this tech is actually a must for VR.

      Still i respect what those guys did bringing us a working sample for this technology.
      This tech is ver usefull if you go over to higher FOV like e.g 180 degree as this tech is needed to let it run smooth and dont waste rendering power.

      Thanks for sahring this with us, although I went for a Vive since the start as being still the most accurate and complete HMD, hopfully those guys can make in a way a partnetship intead of making a total own device.
      It would benefit VR more.

      • David Herrington

        You literally just said the same exact thing I said but in more words…

        • DiGiCT Ltd

          More detailed and my own opinion.
          And i replied PianoMan not you as I had nothing to reply to you on it ;-)

    • Perseus Smith

      I’m a dev, and m interested very much so maybe you ar not in tune. A large proportion of the kickstarter donors were devs.
      -2 points !!

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        What he means is that this product at current state has no future, and I as a dev need to agree on it as the eyetracking only is not what makes this device go to end users , so its a play around toy but not something you will go to develop for as nearly nobody will buy your stuff due to not enough buyers for the fove.
        As i dev i agree their tracking tech is awesome, but for a full blown VR experience its useless, especially for games in its current state.

        • PianoMan

          Yeah that’s pretty much it. If Oculus or HTC buy and use the tech then that would be amazing, but shipped in its current format, in that HMD, no.

          • Jim Cherry

            what if a pc oem came in and bought it for use with a windows holo vr headset?

  • Buddydudeguy

    70hz, 90-100 degree field of view, this failed and its not even out yet.

  • David Herrington

    With Nvidia, SMI, and FOVE proving that foveated rendering can consistently provide gains to graphical quality at virtually no expense, how long can HTC or Oculus hold back before the other snaps this tech into their HMD?

    • mellott124

      Quite a while. Ever adjusted your headset while wearing it? You’ll have to recalibrate the eye tracking in that case. That will keep this from going mainstream for quite some time. I’ve used FOVE at trades show’s. It has the same issue.

      • MdM

        Can you elaborate? I can understand an initial calibration being necessary, but why would it matter to the eye-tracker if you adjust the headset’s position on your head? Unless you move it so much that your eyes leave the field of view of the cameras (which shouldn’t be possible in a well-designed system), the tracker just needs to continue tracking your eyes, correct?

  • Foreign Devil

    surprised these guys didn’t get bought out by the bigger VR players. . I guess they didn’t patent foveated rendering so the big guys will just copy it instead of buying it.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Propably because foveated rendering wasn’t invented by them..

  • The tech is unlikely to stay just with FOVE, the only question is weather HTC and OCULUS will pay for it or will they stick with in house solutions. As a complete product it’s easer to evaluate the tech. It’s a good idea and everyone in VR knows it, or should know it.

  • Rand

    The tech will survive after being bought out by a larger company but this first run model will have limited use. The next generation of VR will be quite impressive indeed.

  • Pistol Pete

    I believe the FOVE is just a stepping stone for the next Vive/Rift. With their specs I don’t see them selling many headsets.

    Hopefully foveated rendering means we will get 4K resolution in Vive2/Rift2. We need it!

    • I personally think 4K VR is waaaay off. I would like to be wrong though :)

      If you look at home cinema projectors which uses similar hardware, they use 4K miniature panels, something that will filter down to VR headsets then you will get an idea of the troubles we can expect from what they try to overcome.

      First of is the Hz, even 60Hz at 4k is the max at the moment. Most are 30Hz so thats a deal breaker right there. We need 90Hz+ which I do not think exists. Then there is cost. 4k LCD projectors are very expensive and in 2016 they are considered high end. Then there is the GPU that can not deliver that kind of bandwidth although as you say, foveated rendering would help there. But then I do not know if the latest HDMI standard can handle the foveated bandwidth at that speed especially if the new headsets want to be 120Hz.

      There are little tricks that the low to mid market try like pixel shift (perceived 4K) so I think we would get that in combination with foveated.

      I would like to see the removal of screen door as a priority. There is nothing worse than being able to see the individual pixels.

      • Jim Cherry

        I wish vr championed display port and mini display port more hdmi moves slow cause of the television makers and license fees dp supported 4k 60+ hz well before hdmi 2.0 came out.

      • yag

        Agree and let’s not forget that 4K VR should also be wireless… 4K * 90Hz (if not 120) compressed with almost no visible artefact and then sent, all within a few ms…
        The critical mass needed for the VR market to reach the 4K Graal seems pretty huge but who knows with the GAFAM…

  • Michael Speth

    I think FOVE wasted their time and energy re-engineering the HMD which is really inferior to the Vive, Rift, and PSVR. They should have spent their time on their innovation which is the eye tracking. If they would have instead, just built the eye tracker for the OSVR HMD (which is designed to be upgraded), than they might have a much bigger market.