HTC Vive Pro Eye hands-on: first VR headset with eye tracking

The Vive Pro Eye incorporates eye-tracking.                  HTC

The Vive Pro Eye incorporates eye-tracking. HTC

This year, at CES 2019, HTC has just announced an all-new PC HMD called the Vive Cosmos, as well as a precision eye-tracking enabled version of the Vive Pro called the Vive Pro Eye. The Vive Pro employs what HTC calls "foveated rendering", a technology which efficiently allocates the GPU power for better image rendering and an overall sharper visual output. There's no pricing yet, but it's supposed to launch in the second quarter of 2019. The Cosmos, like the Vive Pro, has been created to be upgraded over time and may even eventually be able to pair and work with a smartphone and gain wireless functionality.

Since the Vive Pro Eye will track eye movements, it can optimize the virtual world in reaction to a user's focus.

Similar to other Vive headsets, Cosmos can be powered by a gaming PC.

The company also launched the HTC Vive Cosmos, a simpler and easier headset for people just entering the VR ecosystem. As the former's name suggests, the Vive Pro Eye is an evolution of the Vive Pro headset which adds integrated eye tracking capabilities - using the data from where the user is peering to boost perceived resolution, perform clever focusing tricks, and even operate menus or record training data for later analysis. There's also no external tracking required. Cosmos also boasts a design that sees the front of the headset lift upward from your eyes rather than slipping on and off. Additionally, HTC has partnered with Mozilla to make Firefox Reality the default web browser on all Vive VR headsets.

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Additionally, enterprise customers can use eye tracking to better train and evaluate users. "VR and AR need to be about experiences, not applications", he said.

Announced by HTC stalwart Drew Bamford, who's now VP of Creative Labs within the brand, it promises to be the next step in virtual reality in terms of getting access to VR on the go - but right now, that's a mysterious promise.

Finally, HTC also announced an exciting update for members of the Viveport subscription service: starting on Vive Day, April 5, 2019, Viveport will move to an unlimited subscription model known as Viveport Infinity.

"We've set out this year to bring everyday computing tasks into VR for the first time", said Michael Almeraris, Vice President of Partnerships and Content, HTC VIVE in a statement.

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