Tobii Spotlight Technology makes VR more efficient with foveated rendering

What you need to know

  • Tobii's latest foray into eye tracking is foveated rendering technology for VR.
  • Called Tobii Spotlight Technology, the tech uses dynamic foveated rendering to make VR more efficient.
  • Using Tobii Spotlight, headsets can render only what users are currently looking at on-screen in high detail, freeing up resources and processing power.

At the Siggraph 2019 conference in Los Angeles today, Tobii took the wraps off of its latest eye-tracking technology, and it's built for virtual reality (VR). Called Tobii Spotlight Technology, the system focuses on delivering foveated rendering, allowing for more efficient VR applications.

Foveation largely mimicks how our eyes see the world by focusing its horsepower on rendering what our eyes are looking at in high detail. That frees VR systems up to allocate more resources to what's in focus, leaving what's in our peripheral vision to render with less detail. This requires implementation of accurate eye tracking to be effective, and that's just what Tobii specializes in.

"Tobii Spotlight Technology is advanced eye tracking specialized for foveation," said Tobii CEO Henrik Eskilsson in a press release. "Tobii Spotlight Technology directly addresses the ever-increasing demand for computational efficiency. Working with our partners to enable foveated rendering is just the beginning and Tobii Spotlight Technology reflects our ongoing commitment to innovation in this area for years to come."

Tobii worked with NVIDIA and HTC to develop its foveation tech. In tests using an HTC Vive Pro Eye paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070, Tobii said that it saw rendering loads reduced by up to 57 percent. Foveated rendering can also give PCs more headroom to hold framerates steady, which is important in VR apps and games. It should also enable more complex shading and coloring, along with the ability to render higher resolution scenes.

Given the fact that VR headsets currently have to render entire scenes in full quality, which can be taxing on resources, foveated rendering could be a major boon to the industry in terms of delivering high-quality apps and games on a wide range of hardware.

You can check out the Tobii blog for more details, and be sure to read through our HTC Vive Pro eye hands-on from CES for more.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl