A New York-based startup has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for the creation of a mobile VR headset, capable of face tracking in real time. The product is described as “the first face-tracking virtual reality headset”, and while it’s currently in the prototype stages of development, the startup intends to have the first production run ready for delivery in December 2016. That is, of course, if the $80,000 Kickstarter goal will be achieved within the next three weeks.
The mobile VR headset in question is known as “Veeso”, and assuming that it will enjoy a public release, it will be compatible with both Android OS and iOS. By the looks of it the Veeso is a fairly standard mobile VR headset similar to the Samsung Gear VR, but what sets it apart from most other products in this category is the inclusion of a couple of infrared cameras designed to track the wearer’s facial expressions. One of the cameras tracks the wearer’s lips, mouth, and jaw, while the other sensor keeps track of the user’s eyebrows, eyelids, and pupils. The data gathered by these two sensors is then translated into the virtual world through the user’s 3D avatar, so in other words, the virtual character will recreate the user’s facial expressions in real time, be it in multiplayer VR games or social network applications. Moreover, the Kickstarter page mentions that, as a Veeso user, you can “become the protagonist of your favorite games by transferring your facial expressions onto any character in the virtual world”. We’re unsure how exactly it will work, but the aforementioned quote was followed by a GIF depicting a close-up of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, whose digital face is already fairly expressive without further alteration. Another interesting characteristic worth mentioning is the VR headset’s ability to recognize “signs of stress, fatigue, and tiredness”, offering users “unprecedented insight into your emotional journey whilst spending time in the VR environment”.
The startup aims to reach a goal of $80,000 by Friday, August 19, and assuming that the target will be achieved, the company intends to have the first beta units ready in November 2016 and to deliver early bird preorders in December 2016. As yet, the product is in the prototype stages, but the finished product should be available in four colors, namely black, white, red, and blue. Prospective buyers can pledge $70 or more to secure a Veeso early bird package, or $80 or more for the same package plus the development kit “intended for game studios, indies and enthusiastic tinkerers”.