Eye Tracking in Meta Quest Pro Also Improves Image Quality
The eye tracking functionality in Meta Quest Pro can do much more than previously known in spite of the many leaks about the headset so far.
A text that explains eye tracking functionality has been found in the Meta Quest 2 beta firmware. The description was published on Twitter by YouTuber and XR hardware analyst Brad Lynch.
Quest Pro Eye Tracking feature explanations has been added to the most recent firmware PTC pic.twitter.com/motF1B3jh6
— Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) September 30, 2022
The description says that eye tracking functionality uses cameras to “estimate the direction” of where a wearer’s eyes are looking. It states that the eye tracking functionality is used in making a user’s avatar’s eye contact and facial expressions “look more natural” in their virtual interactions with other users and to also “improve the image quality” within the area a user is looking in virtual reality.
The description also states that the eye tracking functionality can be used as an input method in interactions with virtual content. However, the description says that eye tracking will not be used in identifying users. Users will also be able to turn eye tracking on and off in the settings for individual apps or all together for all virtual reality experiences.
Foveated Rendering Provides a Powerful Rendering Technique
There are obvious or confirmed features of eye tracking such as eye contact and as an input method. However, the text also mentions image enhancement which was previously an unknown benefit.
Is this implying that the Quest Pro headset could support foveated rendering functionality? Foveated rendering technique uses eye tracking to work out the image that the eye is currently focusing on and then computes this area and renders it in detail while blurring out the peripheral areas. This rendering technique considerably saves on computing power which can subsequently be reinvested in better graphics and higher resolution images.
PlayStation VR’s gaze tracking functionality also supports foveated rendering and early reports suggest it does this with impressive results: the images in focus look sharper and the reduced graphics in the periphery aren’t discernible.
During a GDC presentation, Sony revealed that the PlayStation 5 is capable of rendering 3D graphics at a rate 3.6 times faster with foveated rendering enabled which is a huge performance gain.
However, it is still not clear just how accurate foveated rendering is in the Sony VR headset. This will become more apparent once the PSVR 2 headset is released in spring.
From the description shared by Lynch, it is still unclear whether the Meta Quest Pro supports foveated rendering. Last year, Meta’s head of technology Andrew Bosworth said that foveated rendering technology is still not bringing “much in terms of performance” for standalone virtual reality headsets.
The Meta Quest Pro could also benefit through other ways from eye tracking functionality. For instance, it can be used to display focused areas in some virtual reality apps with a higher resolution or in the application of algorithms against image distortions. Both of these functions will result in improved image quality.
Overall, the description further raises the prospects that the Meta Quest Pro might pull off a few surprises upon launch. The headset will be announced at Meta Connect on October 11.