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Nvidia's Eye-Tracking Tech Could Revolutionize Virtual Reality

August 8, 2016 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Simon Parkin / Technology Review

A phenomenon first observed by Leonardo da Vinci is being used to make virtual images look more realistic.

Look at a clock on a nearby wall. The focal point of your gaze should be in focus, while the scene around the clock is blurred, as if your brain is sketching your surroundings, or, in computer graphics terms, rendering a low-resolution version of the scene.

Nvidia is applying the same trick to rendering virtual reality, and it could help improve the realism of virtual worlds significantly. By focusing graphics rendering power on a smaller area, it is possible to sharpen the image a person sees significantly.

Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to notice this visual phenomenon, called foveal vision, in the 15th century. David Luebke, together with four other researchers at Nvidia, has spent the last nine months attempting to mimic the principle in VR by fully rendering only the specific area where a player is looking, and leaving the rest of the scene at a far lower resolution.

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