Well, this is an interesting design. Sony has patented what looks like a pair of ordinary prescription glasses for use with VR headsets, such as PSVR. Eyeglasses also include eye tracking sensors.
The patent, published last week, does not demonstrate a new VR headset with its own eye tracking capabilities. Instead, it is associated with a pair of prescription glasses that fit inside any headset. VR headsets have an uneven history with ordinary glasses; some of them easily adapt them, while others do not. Developing custom glasses designed for use with a headset can help Sony attract more VR enthusiasts to PSVR or possibly undeclared PSVR 2.
But it is the inclusion of the sensor tracking the eyes that makes this patent really interesting. The patent states that the sensor is able to determine “information about the user’s gaze in order to improve the quality of the content provided for rendering on virtual reality glasses”.
For us, this sounds very similar to foveated rendering. This is a process in which the headset tracks the position of the user’s eyes and fully displays the screen area in the center of the field of view. The rest of the image is not fully visualized, but it is imperceptible to the user’s peripheral view. This feature significantly reduces the processing power consumed on a VR-powered device.
The question is, why do these glasses include the eye tracking sensor, and not the headset itself? We can give several reasons. Perhaps, for example, these glasses can be used in tandem with the current PSVR headset, which does not have built-in eye tracking. PSVR is home to a big impression, but it’s no secret that the PS4, which feeds it, pales in comparison to a PC running Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The implementation of foveated rendering in the current setting can really give PSVR a boost.
Or perhaps simply using these glasses is an eye tracking sensor already built into the next version of PSVR. Thus, a sensor with glasses simply replaces the other. Or it could be none of the above things. At a time when companies are seeking to make VR more accessible, we have to wonder whether Sony will really ask people to buy glasses specifically designed for use with headsets.
This is just the last of a series of patents that we saw with Sony in 2019. Last month, we reported that the PSVR wireless version was spotted. Back in February, we also noticed some new features for the long-term patent controller, which can replace the PlayStation Move. However, with so many PSVR games this year, we don’t expect to see a successor to the headset in 2019.
VRcue will continue to keep you updated on the latest virtual reality events.