Google Acquires Eyefluence To Prep For VR/AR Hardware Future

Alexis Macklin, Research Manager Devices & Technology, Head-Mounted Displays, Insight Articles, Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality Intelligence Service

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Eyefluence, an eye-tracking startup, has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount.  The eye-interaction technology company was acquired to advance Google’s technology for interacting with AR and VR hardware. Eyefluence previously raised over $20 million in funding from various companies including Dolby, Intel, and Motorola. Google has a variety of VR/AR projects in the works including Cardboard, Daydream, Glass and an undisclosed standalone headset.

Eyefluence’s technology turns eye movements into controllers. This addition could help Google as it strives for to create affordable VR and AR for the masses. Eye movement is the fastest controller, but lack the interactivity and fluidity of hand movement. Together, the two controllers could bring more immersion and sense of presence to VR and AR.

Eye tracking is an important component of improving VR experiences, whether or not Google uses Eyefluence’s technology as a controller. Tracking eye movement can be imitated on an avatar for social experiences and improve latency and rendering issues. These improvements all can benefit a standalone headset.

The industry is moving in the direction of manufacturers adopting standalone headset solutions. This industry-wide trend is repeated in steps toward this solution. Oculus revealed the company is developing a standalone headset, and early this year, Intel announced they were open sourcing their solution. Alcatel’s standalone headset is the first to have a tentative scheduled commercial release for the US in early 2017.

With companies publicly announcing their intentions to create a standalone headset, Greenlight Insights expects a full transition over to cordless, tethered headsets in the near future with untethered, standalone headsets not far behind.

For a deeper dive into standalone headsets, how they will affect the industry and a forecast of VR headsets, preorder The Virtual Reality Industry Report: Fall 2016