Fove announced it will start shipping its virtual reality headset to customers who pre-ordered and crowdfunding backers later in January. In 2015, the company made an impact on Kickstarter, raising $480,650 to make its concept of an eye-tracking headset a reality.
In November, Fove announced that pre-orders were open for anyone who wanted to get their hands on a Fove 0 headset as soon as possible. Over the coming weeks, buyers should start receiving their hardware.
“This is the culmination of a two-and-a-half year adventure,” said Yuka Kojima, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We started Fove as a small team back in 2014, and now we’re finally realizing an entirely new way for humans to interact with a virtual world.”
The company hopes that its headset’s eye-tracking capabilities will set the product apart from competitors in the increasingly crowded VR marketplace. Eye tracking has the potential to be a game-changing form of interaction for VR experiences, as it allows users to directly interface with their surroundings without the need for a traditional controller.
Fove also brought some new software for use with its headset to CES 2017. The first is an experience called Lumen, described as a “nonlinear VR meditation” by its creators. The project, created by creative agency Framestore in collaboration with Time Inc.’s Life VR, allows users to grow plants and flowers by directing their gaze at various parts of a forest scene.
The other implementation of the headset’s unique capabilities takes a very different approach to the technology. A demo constructed by cognitiveVR places users in a recreation of a shop and tracks their gaze as they explore their surroundings. Afterward, they are presented with product placement statistics and a heat map of their gaze. It’s thought that this kind of software could provide valuable insights to retail businesses going forward.
Fove also revealed that the black headsets released as part of its first wave of pre-orders were strictly limited and that from now on the company will only offer a white color variant. Given that rival products like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are only available in black, this decision seems to be a strategic move to differentiate Fove from its competition.