This HTC Vive add-on could cut the entry price for virtual reality

HTC Vive’s next hardware may not be the new headset you’re hoping for. Rather, it might be a $220 pair of lenses that, besides reducing the processing power needed to run VR games and applications, can track where you’re looking while wearing the headset.

The lenses are called aGlass, and they’re made by a company called 7invensun, which is based out of Beijing. The company and its still-in-development accessory are part of HTC’s Vive X accelerator program, which was set up to help fund the next generation of virtual reality technology.

The lenses will go on sale in China soon for around $220 (£170, AU$290) and will begin shipping internationally sometime in the autumn.

The aGlass works by attaching itself to the inside of an HTC Vive headset and will track where your eyes are looking at any given time. This information is relayed back to the PC and can trigger something called foveated rendering – a technique that allows PCs to fully render the place on the screen where you’re looking and blur everything else. 

Why is foveated rendering so important to VR? Well, it allows games to look ultra-crisp in the spots you need it to without unnecessarily rendering other parts of the screen that you can’t see. This saves precious processing power and could help PCs that normally couldn’t run VR games very well to run at 90 frames per second.

Other hardware on the periphery 

While the aGlass is making headlines for its direct integration with the Vive, it’s not the only eye-tracking hardware out there at the moment. 

Tobii was one of the first eye-trackers in the market and promised to create “visual hotmaps” for your favorite games like League of Legends

VR hardware manufacturer Fove already has a dev kit called the FOVE 0 that offers eye-tracking to interested developers, while Qualcomm’s SnapDragon 835 VR dev kit could be a blueprint for building the technology into the next wave of mobile VR headsets.

What’s next after we find a way to bring our eyes into the virtual world? There’s hands, feet and, well, pretty much everything else you can think of...

Via PR Newswire

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.