Partnerships in XR eye tracking: fundamental to mass-market uptake

  • by Doug Eggert
  • 4 min

Tobii VR headsets - partners

As the market matures, predictions indicate that XR is on the brink of mass-market uptake. Early 2020, Research and Markets predicted a 65% CAGR growth for the coming five years (2020–2025), a forecast supported by MarketWatch’s figures and mirrored by growth in headset shipments; forecast to rise to over 30 million units by 2023. The success of XR relies on cross-domain collaboration because it ensures that essential facilitating technologies such as eye-tracking, 5G-enabled chipsets, transport networks, XR cloud, and application development can leverage the most recent designs.

Tobii and Qualcomm Snapdragon XR25G
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ XR2 5G Reference Design

Ease-of-integration accelerates commercialization

The XR technology stack is diverse, one that requires headset manufacturers to manage multiple third-party suppliers, who provide niche products and services. Building a sustainable XR ecosystem — supporting millions of frequent users — requires lightweight and comfortable headsets, low-latency transport networks, compelling user content, head-, hand-, and eye-tracking, XR cloud, and support for foveation technologies. Cross-domain integration is critical for rapid commercialization.

The recent Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ XR2 5G Reference Design is the world’s first 5G-enabled reference headset and features Tobii eye-tracking as a native and foundational technology. Working together over several product generations, Tobii and Qualcomm once again establish the gold standard for what users and developers should expect from a VR headset.

Why is eye-tracking fundamental to XR adoption?

As a foundational XR technology, eye-tracking has the capability to foster adoption through its contribution to systems integration and the user experience.

Lightening the load

From a systems integration perspective, building an ecosystem with millions of frequent users requires the efficient use of resources.

Foveated rendering
Leveraging human vision

By leveraging the human vision process, eye-tracking can lighten the load on headset graphical processing and reduce the bandwidth needed to send data across the network to other headsets and devices, while maintaining the user experience.

Foveated rendering makes use of the fact that our eyes focus on a limited region of interest in high-resolution, surrounded by a medium-resolution blend area, outside of which we only require low-resolution rendering for objects in our periphery.

Enabled by Tobii Spotlight Technology™, dynamic foveated rendering leverages user-focus data to dramatically decrease processing load on the headset — freeing up resources to, for example, support higher resolution headsets, enhance graphics, and increase frame rates (which can help to lessen nausea).

Compelling user content

From the user’s point of view, building an ecosystem with millions of frequent users requires compelling content, which in turn requires incentives and a low entry point for development teams. Predicting a user’s intent to pick up an object, for example, is simplified when eye-tracking data is available. An application can use the gaze point of a user to select an object, removing the need to look and then select with a hand gesture or head movement. Gaze-based object selection mimics the way people naturally interact with the world around them, heightening the sense of immersion for the user. By removing the need for head movements, eye-tracking can help reduce fatigue and nausea — additional factors helping to accelerate adoption.

Avatars without stares

With eye-tracking, avatar-based applications become realistic with natural eye movement, by leveraging features such as social eye contact. Together with head-and-hand gestures, applications leveraging eye-tracking become more intuitive, learning is simple, and the user experience is memorable — factors that contribute to adoption.

Headsets adapted for users

In addition to enriched user experiences, new business opportunities for developers, and reduced GPU and transport loads, eye-tracking plays a role in ease-of-use of the headset — a key enabler for XR. The weight and comfort of the headset being two of the most significant design factors affecting adoption.

By continually measuring the distance to a person’s eyes, slippage, for example, can be detected. Calibration with eye-tracking is accurate because it enables additional parameters, such as the distance between a person’s eyes, the position of the fovea, and the reflection properties of different parts of the eyes to be included in the calculation.

Tobii partnerships

Together, Qualcomm and Tobii have built a platform facilitating the creation of a sustainable XR ecosystem for millions of frequent users. Tobii is keen to partner with other stakeholders, both at a systems integration level and application development. Our SDK, for example, provides many essential tools to lower the entry barrier for application development in areas such as training, remote collaboration, immersive design and diagnostics. Interested in partnering with Tobii?

Get in touch

We look forward to hearing from you.

Written by

  • Tobii Doug Eggert

    Doug Eggert

    VP of XR, Tobii

    In my role, I get to work directly with headset manufacturers, helping them integrate eye tracking into their hardware. My focus is the introduction of eye tracking for effortless interaction and immersion in virtual and mixed reality as well as enabling more capable devices with solutions such as foveated rendering and analytics. Personally, I am excited about the future of spatial computing, which helps me greatly in my role because I am passionate about working closely with our customers and engineering team to drive the widespread adoption of eye tracking in XR.

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