The Japanese virtual reality start-up company FOVE offers users a headset that employs eye tracking as a unique method of interaction.
FOVE is a high-end virtual reality (VR) system that lets users fully immerse themselves in another world. The enclosed headsets effectively shut them out from their real surroundings. The VR system employs sensors to keep track of users and combine their position and movements into the virtual action. Now, eye tracking offers another, unusual and highly intuitive way to interact with virtual reality.
Tracking Direction of Gaze
The VR headset integrates Tiny ChipLEDs from Osram Opto Semiconductors that provide the infrared emissions to track the user’s eye movements and direction of gaze. The TOPLED SFH 4253 from Osram Opto Semiconductors generates the light pattern for the infrared position sensor that comes with the FOVE virtual reality headset. The TOPLED, like other eye tracking systems, illuminates the user’s eyes with infrared light. Then an IR sensitive camera sensor registers the reflections and employs unique algorithms to ascertain the user’s direction of gaze and eye movements.
FOVE uses the very small SFH 4053 ChipLEDs from Osram Opto Semiconductors to achieve the function inside a headset. Several of the infrared LEDs are positioned around the two lenses. The IR LEDs measure just 0.5 mm x 1.0 mm x 0.45 mm in size, and their emission wavelength of 850 nm matches the spectral sensitivity of the camera sensor. The IR LED’s beam angle of +- 70° assures an even illumination of the eyes.
Direction of Gaze an Important Part VR Interaction with FOVE System
In the FOVE virtual world users can select or move an object just by looking at it. Also, they can establish eye contact with virtual characters or trigger actions by focusing their gaze at certain spots. Moreover, the technology permits “foveated rendering,” a novel technique which the company says greatly reduces the demands on computing power and graphic cards. Based on the information about a user’s point of gaze, VR systems can adjust the resolution. Foveated rendering renders areas in the direct field of vision in high resolution while supporting a lower resolution in the periphery.
“We chose Osram IR LEDs because they are high-quality products. They meet all our specifications. One of our main deciding factors was that only very little light lies outside the central emission spectrum and is therefore lost, which meant we could streamline our optical filter design process and maximize our sensor performance,” said Lochlainn Wilson from FOVE.
“Through collaboration with FOVE, we are the first supplier to provide an eye tracking solution for a VR headset,” said Hiroshi Okuma, Marketing Manager for ELS (Emitter, Laser, Sensors) at Osram Opto Semiconductors. “With its high efficiency and compact package, the SFH 4053 is ideal for this application.”