The virtual reality market currently revolves around a handful of headsets in various segments. In the PC department, the biggest players include HTC and their Vive headset, as well as the Oculus Rift. Samsung has most of the mobile VR market covered with the Samsung Gear VR, and Sony is also preparing for the release of its PlayStation VR bundle. However, if you've kept an eye on the VR scene over the past couple of years or so, you may have previously heard that a Japanese company is working on FOVE - the world's first virtual reality headset to utilize eye tracking technology. Initially announced in 2014, the startup has now raised $11 million through Series A investments, and interestingly enough, Samsung's investment arm is one of the main backers of the project.
FOVE was officially announced in 2014, and in May 2015, the Japanese startup began a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $250,000. The goal was achieved in less than 4 days, raising a total of $480,650 by the end of the campaign. Although FOVE was initially set for a market release in March 2016 (this month), the startup was forced to delay the headset's release to fall 2016 due to difficulties in acquiring certain components. More to the topic at hand, TechCrunch reports that FOVE recently acquired $11 million through a Series A investment, which was backed by Foxconn, 2020, as well as Samsung Venture Investment. Of course, Samsung is the creator of the Gear VR headset for the mobile market, which makes its involvement in the development of FOVE that much more intriguing.
FOVE aims to differentiate itself from the rest of the VR crowd by adopting new technologies, including eye tracking through a series of infrared sensors. The technology allows the user to aim with his or her eyes, and can even allow developers to create in-game characters whose behavior can change depending on whether the user is making eye contact. The headset also supports foveated rendering, which is an image processing technique that allows the amount of detail and resolution to vary across an image. While FOVE aims to become the first virtual reality headset utilizing these technologies, the startup's CEO and co-founder, Yuka Kojima, says that the company is also interested in licensing its eye-tracking technology to other VR headset manufacturers. Either way, FOVE is currently aimed for a market launch in fall 2016, and Kojima says that the startup is "working very hard to secure the timeline".