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Breakthrough Adds Eye Tracking to Virtual Reality

I've seen virtual reality and I've seen eye-tracking software, but the two technologies have always been separate entities -- until now. A new demo version of a head-mounted display (HMD) is making the rounds that combines the two, allowing wearers to control the action with their eyes -- potentially eliminating the need for motion controllers that the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift current use.

Created by Eyefluence,  a Silicon Valley-based team that works with AR, VR and mixed-reality devices, the new interface is the first to test the limits of eye-tracking. In its current model, the iUi interface is used on either a pair of ODG R6 smartglasses or a Oculus DKw headset. After donning the demo unit, a two-minute tutorial helps you get up to speed.

From there, you're free to roam the specially configured apps using your eye movements to browse and share photos, make purchases and even text. The actual interaction times are measured in tens of milliseconds, making the exchange much faster than tapping an item with your finger.

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Calling HMDs "fundamentally incomplete" without eye-tracking integration, Eyefluence founder and CEO Jim Marggraf bragged in the Eyefluence press release that, "Eyefluence's iUi is the most natural, intuitive, and easily-learned method of human-computer interaction I've seen...This is a pivotal moment for our company, and for the HMD industry as a whole, that will accelerate the adoption of AR and VR hardware and experiences, with our technology deployed in forthcoming headsets."

The company is in the process of teaming up with leading consumer electronics companies like Motorola Solutions and HMD makers to help bring the iUi interface to devices. With its lightning fast speeds and ease-of-use, Eyefluence's interface could be the component necessary to elevate virtual reality to both enterprise and consumer prominence.

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.