Tobii, a global leader in eye-tracking, announced it’s currently in talks with Sony to include its tech in the upcoming PlayStation VR2.

Tobii released a short press statement today confirming that negotiations are ongoing, additionally noting that it’s “not commenting on the financial impact of the deal at this time.”

It was first revealed that Sony would include eye-tracking in PSVR 2 back in May 2021, with the mention that it will provide foveated rendering for the next-gen VR headset. Foveated rendering allows the headset to render scenes in high detail exactly where you’re looking and not in your peripheral. That essentially lets PSVR 2 save precious compute power for more and better things.

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Founded in 2001, Tobii has become well known in the industry for its eye-tracking hardware and software stacks. The Sweden-based firm has partnered with VR headset makers over the years and can be found in a number of devices, such as HTC Vive Pro Eye, HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition, Pico Neo 2 Eye, Pico Neo 3 Pro Eye, and a number of Qualcomm VRDK reference designs.

It’s still unclear when PSVR 2 is slated to arrive, although it may be positioned to become the first true commercial VR headset to feature eye-tracking—that’s if PSVR 2 isn’t beaten out by Project Cambria, the rumored ‘Quest Pro’ headset from Meta which is also said to include face and eye-tracking.

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  • MeowMix

    TBH, I assumed the PSVR2 would be using Tobii eye tracking. Tobii is probably the only major independent eye tracking solution. The other big players (Google, META, Apple, Microsoft, etc) all have their own R&D in XR including eye tracking. META Reality Labs has a ton of eye tracking research, and they’ve acquired ET companies such as The Eye Tribe.

    That said, it is interesting SONY is considering using a 3rd party solution for their eye tracking. Maybe their inhouse solution isn’t up to the task.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      It may simple be hard to replace long years of experience. Tobii has been working on eye tracking for a long time, released a number of products themselves or with partners and got a lot of real world feedback. Not sure if Sony has released an eye tracking product yet or if so far it has been mostly a lab project. We know that eye tracking is hard, partly due to the individual eyes of people being very different, and even Tobii still not having a solution that works for every user.

      If money or company size were the only factors for successfully implementing tracking, hand tracking on the Quest should run circles around any other solution. In reality Ultraleap’s hand tracking proves to be significantly better, even though the products of the original developer Leap Motion were largely unsuccessful and the company had to be sold in 2019 to what is now called Ultraleap for just 10% of its peak value. So a small company with little money, no success, but a lot of experience, can still produce a superior solution.

  • Lhorkan

    Well, there goes the hoped $399 out the window.

    • kool

      This seems like the opposite I’m sure it’s cheaper than making your own.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    “First true commercial VR headset”
    Uhm, no it isn’t.. unless all the other headsets like Vive Pro Eye aren’t commercial headsets, oh wait they are….

    • Sven Viking

      Yup. “First mass-market headset” might be better.

  • Bob

    If the launch date of PSVR 2 is slated for the end of 2022 (pre-order notifications are already up on the official website), it does seem awfully late for Sony to start picking out partners to provide the eye tracking solution. Perhaps Tobii is assisting with the software side of things and helping with the tracking algorithm? There’s always pumping up stock prices too by announcing things at the right moment…

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Nah, not really, with the PS4 and PS5 they also were putting the final specs together in februari and they had a release in november. It might just they have all the tech already together but are now just finalizing the actual licenses for production.

  • F*** Tobii. They have all of the eye tracking patents and they’ve been stopping eye tracking from ending up in any reasonably priced VR headset. They’ve been playing gatekeeper to what is otherwise a simple set of tiny cameras and a little software. It’s $5 in parts! We’d have had eyetracking in the CV1 Rift if it wasn’t for their greed!

  • Kenny Thompson

    Lots of open questions regarding PSVR eye tracking…. John Carmack has been quite skeptical about eye tracking as it relates to foveated rendering… So it’s highly likely there is some hitch in the tech-stack. Hope they can make it go. The promise is amazing.

    • silvaring

      So all this Nvidia talk about Dynamic Foveated Rendering being much better thanks to eye tracking is all bollocks?

      • Cless

        It probably improves performance, just don’t think of it as the Hail Mary of VR performance.

        • kool

          I wonder how much of a performance gain fov rendering will actually achieve. Even if its 100% you still have to account for the extra frames and tracking. I’m curious to see how far cambria will push that old soc. I’m also curious to see if fov rendering, wifi6 and cloud gaming can make vr game streaming a reality!

  • Sven Viking

    Reposting as including a link has had the original comment stuck awaiting moderation for the past 10 hours:

    Wait, surely they can’t be just starting to negotiate deals for what tech to put into the headset at this point?? What does that mean for estimates that the headset is launching this year and possibly already in manufacturing?

    Even if they put eye-tracking cameras in there with no specific plan for software, and are only now looking for software providers to make use of that predetermined hardware, it seems crazy to me to publicly announce eye-tracked foveated rendering as a feature before having a deal to make it possible?

    Edit: SadlyItsBradley says “The hardware design is finalized. If I had to guess: Sony attempted to use their inhouse algorithms for their IR camera based eye tracking and wasn’t getting the overall reliability they wanted. So they started asking Tobii for help”

    Someone on Reddit also made the point that avoiding potential issues with Tobii’s patents might be a factor.