Playstation VR 2: Sony chooses Tobii as eye-tracking supplier
Update July 1, 2022:
Tobii confirmed in a press release that it will be the eye-tracking supplier for Playstation VR 2.
“PlayStation VR2 establishes a new baseline for immersive virtual reality (VR) entertainment and will enable millions of users across the world to experience the power of eye tracking,” said Anand Srivatsa, CEO of Tobii.
Tobii expects upfront revenue from Sony this year. In total, the PSVR 2 deal is expected to account for ten percent of Tobii’s 2022 annual revenue. Tobii won’t commit to a revenue forecast beyond 2022 because of the “rapid evolution of the VR industry.”
The press release does not give any hint about a possible market launch of the PSVR 2. For more on the potential of eye-tracking and Tobii, see the article below.
Article dated February 7, 2022:
Is the launch of PlayStation VR 2 not as close as hoped after all? A press release from the eye-tracking manufacturer Tobii suggests so.
Sony only recently launched the official website for the PlayStation VR 2, where PSN members can already sign up for a pre-order newsletter. So is this a sign of a not-too-distant market launch? A press release from eye-tracking specialist Tobii raises doubts that Sony’s VR glasses for the PlayStation 5 could appear quickly.
Playstation VR 2: Is Tobii’s eye-tracking coming?
In the terse text, Tobii announces that it is in negotiations with Sony: “Tobii AB, the global leader in eye tracking and pioneer of attention computing, announces it is currently in negotiation with Sony Interactive Entertainment (“SIE”) be the eye tracking technology provider in SIE’s new VR headset, PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2).”
Tobii would not comment on the “financial impact” as it is in ongoing negotiations. There has been no comment from Sony so far, and Tobii would not discuss the announcement further when asked.
The company does not reveal further details – and thus leaves a lot of room for speculation: Is Sony looking for help because its own eye tracking system is not yet fully developed?
Tobii focuses on privacy with eye-tracking
In another area, the Swedish company’s secrecy could be a positive: in 2018, Tobii declared that data collected during eye tracking is not stored and must not leave the device.
Developers can utilize the movement data of the pupil for their app, but they do not have access to the recordings themselves at any time. VR headsets with integrated eye tracking from Tobii include the HTC Vive Pro Eye and the HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition.
Privacy is particularly sensitive with eye tracking because the cameras capture subtle eye movements that can be analyzed in many ways. Psychologists Michael Madary and Thomas K. Metzinger from Gutenberg University in Mainz coined the term “neuromarketing” in this context years ago.
Eye tracking in VR glasses offers many advantages
Sony is already advertising the advantages of eye-tracking on the official website of the PlayStation VR2. Dynamic Foveated Rendering significantly reduces the load on the graphics chip in virtual reality. Sony uses the marketing term “Advanced Foveated Rendering”, but it describes exactly the typical effect of different high-resolution areas.
At the Siggraph computer graphics conference, Nvidia and Tobii gave an outlook of the potential of foveated rendering as early as 2019. With so-called “variable rate shading”, the companies were able to reduce the average power consumption of a GeForce RTX 2070 by 57 percent. The test was performed with a Vive Pro Eye and a Tobii system.
A 2020 demo using the Omnicept Edition of the Reverb G2 achieved an average 39 percent performance increase in frames per second.
Other benefits of eye tracking include the ability for avatars to make eye contact during a virtual conversation or to trigger interactions through gaze. For example, a non-player character might react to being looked at or to certain objects near him. Players could also control menus with glances.