Today at CES HTC made a slew of announcements about the Vive ecosystem, including a new, upcoming version of the Vive Pro called the Vive Pro Eye.

Revealed on stage today at the company’s CES press event, the Vive Pro Eye appears to be largely the same as the Vive Pro, but now with integrated eye-tracking. HTC says that the Vive Pro Eye will launch in Q2 of 2019. They aren’t talking about the price yet, but we expect it will be at least as much, if not more, than the current Vive Pro which starts at $800 for the headset alone.

While the company was a little iffy on their target-market messaging when they launched the Vive Pro last year—which lead to some anger by enthusiasts over the enterprise-focused price—HTC is being much more clear this time around: “Vive Pro Eye is targeted at the enterprise market where eye tracking has a number of immediate benefits […].”

Of the various potential uses of eye-tracking—like foveated rendering, user-intent analysis, and gaze-based interactions—it isn’t clear what, if any, services will be built into the headset’s core software as opposed to merely providing the eye-tracking data for developers to make use of.

Around the lenses of the Vive Pro Eye you can see some of the changes implemented for eye tracking. The spaces around the lenses are likely IR LEDs to illuminate the user’s eye. | Photo by Road to VR

While the Vive Pro Eye will largely be the same as the original Vive Pro, including the same resolution, the company said there are some minor tweaks here and there, including modified padding on the headphones to improve audio.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • MosBen

    Cue all the people who say that this is cool, but should be hundreds of dollars less expensive. If HTC could find a way to make this cheaper, they wouldn’t focus it on enterprise, and if other companies could find a way to put eye tracking into their consumer-targeted HMDs at consumer prices, they would.

    • Jistuce

      Also possible it IS cheaper and they’re focusing on “enterprise” customers to increase their profit margins.

    • Alan Dail

      I suppose there is no chance of an upgrade path for people who already bought the Vive Pro.

      • Of course not. It’s all about profit not customer satisfaction.

        • Hivemind9000

          So cynical! :) Looking at the design of the sensors (embedded around the lenses), and guessing at the additional driver/electronics that the sensors would require, upgrading existing headsets would be quite difficult and expensive (the whole sub-chassis would likely be different).
          I’m not sure “profit” is the motivation behind this headset. Most of these VR companies are burning through capital as it’s a research heavy industry (and will be fore the foreseeable future). If HTC were purely after profit, they’d probably wouldn’t be making something like this and just focusing on “VR lite” like Oculus seem to be doing. Even then, I don’t think hardware margins are great – especially while they’re all trying to establish themselves as the market leader (similar to the console price war between Sony and Microsoft).

          • G-man

            tobii have literally been building these into exsiting vive and vive pro for ages now. they didnt havchof anything to do it.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    If they compete with oculus and wmr prices it would be nice.Jesus Christ is God’s Son and mankinds only sole hope for salvation.Jesus saved my life and soul.Jesus is my Lord and Savior!I may ask you to commit to Him and be forgiven and free from sin.

  • Hivemind9000

    Still too expensive, but at least someone is including this critical technology in their headset. Why is it critical, I hear you say? Basically headset resolution (esp for wide FOV capability as seen in the Pimax, Xtal etc) is outstripping the capability of current graphics cards. Eye tracking combined with foveated rendering will help mainstream graphics cards keep up. We need this if we want to see affordable mass-market, wide FOV headsets in the near future.

    • MW

      Right, but nobody will use this tech for anything if HMD with e.t. will not be available for consumer.
      And consumers HMDs become more and more simplier-cheaper-mobile. Mobile HMD means no AAA content. No AAA content means no need for using e.t. Where’s the logic? Beside fast money from crapp mobile games?

      • Hivemind9000

        Not sure I follow you. “Nobody will use this tech for anything” ?
        Tech innovations often start at the high end, but generally filter down to the low end once it becomes refined and standardized (so they can get the costs down). It’s a good start that someone is finally putting the tech into a production headset.
        Of course there will be simpler/cheaper mobile HMDs, but at the same time we are seeing the emergence of HMDs like Vive Cosmos where it looks like you can stream PC games to the headset. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but should be competitive given they don’t have to embed the mobile processor like Oculus Quest has to. Time will tell.
        If there’s a demand, innovation will find a way – eventually. Stop being so “glass half empty” dude.

  • MW

    Probbly around 1k usd more and no software for this tech. And in the same time consumer HMDs becomes mobile with more and more crapier software. Where do you go VR?

    • Mike

      I’m sure there will be universal SteamVR support for Foveated Rendering.

      • G-man

        except its down to the gpu. they could do steamvr integration for the data of where you are looking. but then other software needs to be able to do things with that.

    • jj

      both. i get a fast mobile experience and a detailed tethered one

  • Str][ker

    Well, at the show, the only mention of this tech’s use was for replacing controllers to track what a user wants to do. No mention of FOVeated rendering etc. For now, I see this as a test of the eye tracking mechanism so that later it can be rolled out for consumer platforms with the FOVeated rendering as a feature. If they rolled out this new tech to the masses and it didn’t work right, well you’d have a much, much bigger version of the HTC wireless / AMD debacle.

  • What they also need to due is replace the horribly designed Fresnel lens. Haven’t they noticed people have been modding their HMD to improve on the lousy sweet spot and horrible god rays. Even the Oculus Go has better lens.

  • How could this be more expensive? Just last year I was pointing out that FOV rendering will be delayed until eye tracking could be done cheaply, and a user here pointed out a $10 eye tracking bit of hardware.,33811.html

    • jj

      a $10 diy eye tracking rig is a lot different than an embedded tobii in a vive….

      • No, this is the cost, per unit, to integrate the factory. This isn’t some sort of slapped together random bit of junk, it’s a unit part.

        It might help if you read the post before interjecting.

        • jj

          wow, that’s a lot of arrogance…. It would help if you understand the complexity of tobii devices in comparison to a standard unit off of toms hardware……

          According to tom, all units are, “little PCB and two skinny wires with tiny cameras at the ends, it can still offer 250Hz, and it still costs under $10 to implement.”

          Which would be such and understatement if said about tobii devices.

          Basically if you think tobii trackers are 10$ worth of hardware, then why don’t you make and undersell tobii? should be easy right?

          I work with tobii on a daily basis in projects and just on my own desktop, im using one mounted on my monitor as i type this and after months of incorporating tobbi into multiple projects i can without a doubt endorse that tobbi trackers are more than just “PCB and two skinny wires with tiny cameras at the ends”

          • First off, use proper grammar, capitalization, and spelling. You seem egotistical and yet still unintelligent. (perhaps, rude?)

            Secondly, there is *no* Do-it-Yourself kit… anywhere. “Costs under $10 to implement” isn’t a DIY cost, it’s a manufacturing cost. Even if you wanted to somehow implement this yourself, you certainly couldn’t just buy one unit, you’d probably have to buy 10,000. Or at least have the pull necessary to get a single one for testing purposes.

            Thirdly, this SMI hardware sounds superior to Tobii, with 250hz performance and a very low cost. Have you used the SMI hardware? How many different kinds of eye tracking units are you familiar with? You seem to have alot of bias, but you aren’t indicating you have much experience with other hardware.

            As for the Tobii tracker being “more than just “PCB and two skinny wires with tiny cameras at the ends””, I just looked up the teardown of the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C:

            The Tobii is just a PCB board with a camera and some IR illuminators. This means it uses the EXACT same hardware as the SMI, with the exception that the SMI has one more camera for covering both eyes. All of that hardware for less then $10 a unit.

            Your “endorsement” is apparently based on very little knowledge of how eye tracking is accomplished. Just because you’ve programmed for one doesn’t mean you understand the hardware involved.

          • jj

            thats a year old video of the monitor edition and not what will be in headsets…..

            I was also implying that tobii is more than just hardware, and their sdk as well as support team also put them ahead of other solutions.

            tobii btw uses SMI in their Tobii x2-60

            Not to mention the hmd edition in the vive is going to be wrapped around the lens…. so good luck replicating that

            sry if my tone and grammar sound off, I was focused on other things and appreciate you providing a video as proof. thats more than most do

          • G-man

            putting some leds around a lens? oh my god how did they ever manage that.

  • chuan_l

    The Tobii HTC Vive ( eye tracked ) is 15K.
    Pricing for this will likely be 3 to 4 thousand , as its something targeted at research or enterprise. Cooking up some popcorn now.

  • chuan_l

    Also : what happened to ” Fove ” —
    I tried their eye tracked headset back at SVVR 2014 , it worked well if not for comfort issues with the headset cutting into your face.

  • I3ordo

    Eye tracking is a must have technology both for rendering and gaze based interaction. I am dying to see it in consoles aswrell(not inside a vr helmet though) as it is the next big feature, For decades, its absence has been haunting games that fail to perform the actions meant by the users.

    imagine selecting the correct defender or the pass recipient every time!