Sony patent describes glasses with eye tracking for VR headsets

Sony patent vr eye tracking prescription glasses PSVR playstation virtual reality

When it comes to using head-mounted displays for virtual reality, those that wear prescription glasses have a mixed bag of experiences. There are new companies that have spawned as a result of these opportunities, offering up custom fits for whatever your desired virtual reality gear may be, and it looks like Sony is at least considering getting into the mix as well. Reported by UploadVR, a recently published patent from the company shows off prescription glasses that features eye gaze tracking for a VR headset.

As the patent describes, these prescription glasses can be detected by a VR headset via an encoded sensor. The curious part is that, after reading this code, the gaze detection function of the headset is disabled. The inference that the existing headset features gaze detection is an important factor here. Sony’s only commercially available VR device is the PlayStation VR, which doesn’t include eye-gaze tracking.

From that, one would assume that these particular prescription glasses would be made available for users of a new headset that does feature gaze tracking. The patent would also mean the company could be getting a jump on providing solutions for a larger consumer base, as wearing standard prescription glasses would likely hinder native eye tracking on the headset.

Eye-gaze tracking is beneficial for VR headsets because it allows for foveated rendering, which is a technique that reduces the image quality in your peripheral vision and increases the quality where your eyes are focused. As is, VR experiences have to be high quality all over simply because the headset and game don’t know where your gaze will be. This technique will better optimize the experience by not uselessly dishing out resources and just keeping the focus of your vision look the best it can.

Foveated rendering is being explored by a handful of entities, with Nvidia being one of the biggest companies focused on it. The company spotlighted eye tracking and variable rate shading, a technique that applies more GPU shading power to areas of an image that need it most, in RTX GPUs. HTC also revealed the HTC Vive Pro Eye this year, an upgrade version the Pro that includes eye tracking. Sony’s patent could be gearing up for a future of eye tracking-equipped headsets by signaling the development of a new PlayStation VR or could mean absolutely nothing.

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