HTC Vive Pro Eye hands-on review

HTC puts eye-tracking tech in Vive Pro Eye to make next-gen VR hands-free

Vive Pro Eye’s integrated eye tracking could take VR to the next level.
Vive Pro Eye’s integrated eye tracking could take VR to the next level.
Vive Pro Eye’s integrated eye tracking could take VR to the next level.

Highs

  • You can experience VR without controllers
  • Realistic visuals may require less hardware
  • Could support more intuitive controls

Lows

  • Feels geared for commercial use
  • Most benefits depend on better software

HTC Vive announced two new headsets at CES 2019, one of which was the Vive Pro Eye. While details were at a minimum, there was one prominent feature announced, and that’s integrated eye tracking. While this isn’t necessarily new to the HTC Vive, eye tracking is now a core feature with full, official support.

That adds a new and exciting layer of possibility to HTC’s Vive Pro Eye. Tracking a user’s eyes adds a new tool for developers to use in HTC Vive experiences down the road, and more importantly enables foveated rendering, a technique that prioritizes what a user is looking at. Everything else is rendered at a lower resolution to save on performance. The effect is unnoticeable because peripheral vision is less precise.

A look at the future

The Vive Pro Eye can be either wired or wireless. During our demo using Vive Sync (a meeting and collaboration app made for businesses), HTC had two headsets available. One was completely wireless, and the other plugged into a PC. If you look at the headset, you’ll notice it has two front facing cameras, so it likely uses similar tracking to that of the HTC Vive Pro. The controllers used appeared to be the standard HTC Vive wireless controllers.

For the most part, though, the Vive Pro Eye looks exactly like the Vive Pro, sporting a navy blue and black colorway with the same “ergonomic” design. You’ll feel no distinct difference between the two when you put them on. Since it has the same exact specs as the Vive Pro, don’t expect a vastly different experience.

As we jumped into our first demo, the Vive Pro Eye walked us through a brief setup where you adjust your IPD (interpupillary distance or the distance between your pupils) and then use your eyes to follow a small red dot that appears sporadically in different locations on the screen. The use of eye tracking within Vive Sync seemed minimal, but we were able to see the real movements of other user’s eyes during our virtual meeting.

The results? Better visuals, hands-free gaming, and more intuitive experiences

MLB Home Run Derby used eye tracking in a more unique way, letting us navigate the menus without a controller. That was especially interesting since the only accessory MLB Home Run Derby came with was a baseball bat, and we can foresee the use of more hands-free VR experiences.

The last demo we saw was BMW’s M Virtual Experience, and it demonstrated how businesses can track where users look and use real-time analytics to understand how they interact with their product. It wasn’t the most exciting demo was saw at the conference — In fact, it’s a little creepy — but seeing the difference made by foveated rendering was impressive.

You might notice that only one of the experiences we tried was a game – MLB Home Run Derby – and a simple one, at that. That doesn’t seem to be an oversight by HTC. The Vive Pro Eye left us feeling it’s geared towards business and commercial use, not gamers. That could change as we hear more about the headset in the coming months and it prepares for launch in the second quarter of 2019. In any case, its integrated eye tracking could prove to be a game changer for Vive headsets in the future.

The Vive Eye Pro will give us visuals that demand less power, more hands-free gaming and software, and more intuitive experiences. Check out everything announced during the HTC Vive press conference.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Smart Home

Military-grade baby monitor called Miku was a hit with parents at CES 2019

Who knew the world needed a smarter baby monitor? Apparently it's the startup Miku, which brought a new high-tech baby monitor to CES 2019 that uses A.I., machine learning, and high quality cameras to keep an eye on kids.
Smart Home

LaMetric teased Sky, an upcoming app-controlled mosaic light panel, at CES 2019

Smart home startup LaMetric put a light in the eyes of guests at this year's CES 2019 with a prototype of a coming product called LaMetric Sky which uses multi-colored LED panels to form app-controlled artwork.
Gaming

Get extra life with our tips and tricks for 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much more difficult game than you'd believe based on its adorable art style and 2D perspective. Here's how you can master the game's toughest challenges.
Gaming

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has two distinct Mario experiences in one package. In this guide, we'll show you how to find all of the secret exits in New Super Mario Bros. U, that lead to hidden levels and let you skip worlds.
Gaming

For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix explained that it views the video game Fortnite as bigger competition than HBO, with YouTube videos of the game drawing viewers away from the streaming platform.
Gaming

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Luigi U Deluxe'

Just like all other 2D Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. Deluxe includes secret exits and world skips. In this guide, we'll show you how to get to all 12 secret exits in New Super Luigi U.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Computing

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.
Gaming

Sharing your best gameplay moments is quick and easy on the Xbox One

The current generation of consoles make it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.
Gaming

Blizzard’s latest hiring spree is likely for the unannounced ‘Diablo 4’

Activision Blizzard is hiring for more than a dozen positions on unannounced Diablo projects. Some of the roles are likely for the unannounced Diablo 4, the next mainline entry in the series.
Gaming

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.