FOVE, The Virtual Reality Headset Controlled By Eye Movements, Launches On Kickstarter

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FOVE, the virtual reality headset that you can control with just your eyes, is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter. The Tokyo-based startup, which launched at Disrupt SF last year as a Battlefield finalist, has already raised more than two-thirds of its $250,000 goal, with 44 days left to go.

Named after the fovea, or the part of the eye responsible for central vision, FOVE claims to be the first VR headset available to consumers to use eye-tracking technology.

FOVE users foveated rendering, which means graphics engine figures what out users are looking at and then concentrates rendering power in that area so that it appears in higher resolution. FOVE co-founder and chief executive officer Yuka Kojima says conserving rendering power means that the headset can be used with a wider range of devices beyond PCs, including smartphones.

For gamers, this also means that they can make eye contact with characters or aim weapons by looking at their target, creating a more immersive experience.

A SDK that will allow developers to port games into FOVE’s ecosystem will be released early next year, but the headset has applications beyond gaming.

For example, developers worked with a teenager who has motor neuron disease to create software that allows him to play the piano using FOVE, and its founders hope people with limited mobility will also use it to type or play games. Japanese researchers are also exploring how FOVE’s eye-tracking technology can be used to help people with conditions like Aspergers and autism.

The headset is scheduled for delivery in May 2016, a timeline Kojima is comfortable with because FOVE has “hands-on support” from Toshiba and Samsung, which are providing components including displays. The headset already has multiple working prototypes and Kojima says that FOVE plans to use money raised from its Kickstarter campaign to refine its eye-tracking technology so that it is works equally well on all people, regardless of the shape of their eyes or face. The company is also checking the safety of infrared lights used in the device, but will begin manufacturing after those tests are complete.

For more information, check out FOVE’s Battlefield presentation.