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Next-gen Gear VR may feature eye and face tracking

A patent application filed by Samsung last May reveals what the company may be working on eye and face tracking for its next-gen Gear VR headset.
November 30, 2016

The first consumer generation of virtual reality headsets are now settling in, and it’s about time manufacturers start turning their attention to next generation technologies. A patent application filed by Samsung last May reveals that the company may have some new wearing tracking technologies planned for its next Gear VR headset.

According to the document, the major new feature in Samsung’s next headset will quite possible be eye tracking and facial monitoring capabilities, in addition to new headset position tracking sensors to follow the headset through a 3D space. This could allow the next Gear VR to take users walking through 3D virtual environments without a controller, rather than being a mostly motionless experience. The Gear VR’s physical position tracking technology uses LED lights and an external camera, while the wearer’s face and eyes are monitored by cameras built into the inside of the headset.

110: head mounted device, 115a: tracking camera

It’s not quite clear what the patent’s facial expression monitoring feature would be especially useful for. Perhaps it will allow for virtual social interactions to be more lifelike? Eye tracking can be especially useful in virtual reality though, as it can allow for the use of advanced accurate foveated rendering by following the wearer’s eye, which reduced the GPU load, a limiting factor in mobile devices.

1605: EOG sensor, 1610: IR LED, 1615: IR sensor

Of course, a patent application is no guarantee that Samsung will implement any of these technologies into its next-gen Gear VR, although it does give us an indication of the types of technologies that the company is working on. Even so, we’re hopefully looking at an interesting headset release perhaps sometime in 2017.

This article first appeared on VRSource.