December 30, 2016

It seems like just yesterday that Oculus, the once small and struggling virtual reality startup was acquired by the tech giant that is Facebook inc. While this occurred just over 2 years ago, a whole lot has changed since then. The company has since launched the consumer version of its product, and just recently released the Oculus Touch controllers that it had been touting for so long. Now, the company is big enough to make major purchases of its own, and has just acquired the eye-tracking startup EyeTribe.

While there has been no official press announcement regarding the acquisition, an Oculus spokesperson has confirmed that the purchase is indeed happening. They were not able to comment on whether or not all 16 members of the EyeTribe team were being moved over to Oculus, but we have to assume that this is more than just a product acquisition.

There is no question as to just how useful eye-tracking technology could be to a company like Oculus. While head tracking is already quite immersive as it is, eye tracking could introduce many benefits such as reducing eye strain, as well as making an application even more immersive. Imagine if an enemy was able to know if you were looking at them, down to the direction of your eyes. Now that is true immersion.

The technology can be quite useful outside of games as well. Facebook has been spending quite a bit of money developing group “hang out” spaces to be integrated with their site and user profiles, and being able to use an avatar that acts like you down to your eye movements is the next step for the technology.

We are slowly but surely inching towards a much more immersive virtual experience, and will one day be able to replicate all the finite movements of the human body to an almost indistinguishable scale. Is this the next step towards plugging into the Matrix? Maybe, but I’m ready for it.

What are your thoughts on the tech? There are more uses for it than we can possibly imagine, and I can’t wait to see what developers can do once it is implemented.

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