FOVE 0 debuted an experience called Lumen, which allowed players to grow their own forest without any hand controls and only used eye motions instead. The idea of being able to track eye movement is both scary and cool at the same time, but absolutely worthless for fitness so let’s talk about why this is so.
You move your Body in Fitness not your Eyes
That’s what this distills down into because fitness is focused around moving your body and if you can do things with your eyes then it defeats the purpose of the rest of your body. If you played video games with your eyes, then your body would have nowhere to put the adrenaline you get from the rush of an FPS. It would be the same as just sitting outside on a chair and watching the world around you move about while you were perfectly still, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do when you are trying to be fit.
You Could Argue a Better Experience
For movies, this would be fantastic as there would be several aspects you could control about the person watching the movie. In a horror movie, the music volume could be turned up when the eyes dilated in fear or when the pupils got smaller because there was a sad movie moment. Eye tracking would be best for items that you watch rather than things you do something with, which is where you could get a better experience.
In an FPS game, your eyes grow smaller when they are trying to focus on something and this is something that could be used inside of a video game. When you have a particularly rough time zooming in on things by hand, the game could tell you want to focus on that specific point and zoom in on it for you. Since the eye zooms in and zooms out constantly during a video game, it may even be faster than quick scoping currently is, which would make the whiners cry even more.
A Different World
We’ve talked about augmented reality before and tracking your eyes would help make such an experience even better. For instance, it could render the graphics in locations only where your eye is currently looking. This would be a huge benefit to the mobile app industry, which is under pressure due to the limited hardware they have to work with in mobile phones.
It could, of course, change the way we perceive the world around us. A good example of this is if we put microscopic lenses that moved with our eyes. Doctors could look directly at an infection on the skin to determine what it might be rather than take a test tube and putting it in a lab. Visual recognition capabilities have gotten to the point where the most common specifies of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections can be identified with the A.I. schema. There’s a lot of potential applications for a technology like this, it’s just that fitness is based on motion of the body whereas moving your eyes around simply doesn’t achieves this even in the grayest of light.
While the FOVE 0 is not really an HMD built for fitness, it could definitely change how we experience VR overall. Intense moments could be made more intense and dull moments could potentially be fixed, which means there might be an even longer interest in whatever activity we choose. Either way, moving things with your eyes is not included in the definition of fitness.
To call eye tracking worthless to VR is missing the mark I think. I get what you’re saying that eye movement doesn’t provide any direct fitness benefits, but foveated rendering could actually have some pretty important implications for fitness in VR. Like you called out, fitness is all about moving your body. When you move your body in actual reality, your eyes use some neat tricks (the vestibulo-ocular reflex) to stabilize the image they’re taking in. For example, think about when you’re running. Your head is naturally bobbing up and down but the world around you does not appear to be jumping around with it. When your head moves up your eyes will move down and vice versa. The result is a nice stable world around you while you’re out on your morning jog. Now if you strap on a headset and start jogging in place you’re going to have a very different outcome. Without foveated rendering the virtual world moves in the same direction as your head and there’s nothing to counteract it. I haven’t tried FOVE 0 yet, but it’s possible that it could be used to stabilize the image and provide a much more comfortable fitness experience.
Very good point, Austin. Like you said, the writer was speaking more to the ramifications for VR fitness. There’s definitely a lot of great things to be said about this tech for the overarching industry though. Thanks for your comment.