AltspaceVR and SMI demonstrate eye tracking technology for virtual reality at Augmented World Expo 2015

Integrated into head-mounted displays and VR software, eye tracking is a game-changer for user interface and non-verbal communication in virtual reality

Augmented World Expo, Santa Clara, Calif. –June 8, 2015 –SensoMotoric Instruments(SMI), the eye tracking technology company, and AltspaceVR, a social virtual reality company, announced today that they will be demonstrating breakthrough eyetracking technology for virtual reality (VR), at Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, June 9-10 in Santa Clara, CA. In the demo, participants can use their eyes to control the user interface and navigate the 3D environment. True eye position and gaze direction, a first in VR, provides a more natural interaction with others in the VR space.

Fueled by the growth of social virtual reality platforms like AltspaceVR, VR is changing from what was a largely individual experience to one that can be shared with others. AltspaceVR provides a software platform that allows participants to meet, speak, gesture, communicate naturally and share experiences in VR so compellingly that they truly feel as though they are together. SMI now adds a critical component for natural and social interaction in VR: eyes.

“Because AltspaceVR has the most natural communication and UI design, it offers an ideal environment to introduce some of the benefits of eye tracking to social virtual reality applications,” said Christian Villwock, Head of SMI’s OEM business unit. “We see eye tracking becoming an essential part of any new HMD platform. So far, researchers and professional developers already make use of our unique eye tracking upgrade to the Oculus Rift DK 2. The AltspaceVR application shows the great benefits eye tracking providesfor natural interactionin VR.”

Eye movement and gaze provide important non-verbal cues and including it in VR greatly improves the natural feel and effectiveness of communication between avatars. Moreover, environments can be designed such that gazing in certain places simplifies interaction that usually uses mouse or keystroke operations, thereby improving the user interface.

“SMI’s world-leading wearable eye tracking technology could transform the way we interact in VR and with computers in general,” said AltspaceVR founder and CEO Eric Romo. “By tracking eye movement and then reflecting that on your avatar, you can truly make eye contact in a virtual spacefor the first time from thousands of miles away. Natural communication is a key part of the AltspaceVR experience and the addition of eye tracking is huge.”

About SMI
SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) is a world leader in eye tracking technology for more than 20 years, developing and marketing eye &gaze tracking for scientists and professionals, OEM and medical solutions for a wide range of applications. Find out more on Follow @SMIeyetracking on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter.

About AltspaceVR
Based in Redwood City, California, AltspaceVR, a social virtual reality company, enables people to communicate in the most natural and fulfilling way possible online.

Founded in 2013, investors include Dolby Family Ventures, Formation 8, Google Ventures, Lux Capital, Foundation Capital, Rothenberg Ventures, SV Angel, Haystack Fund, Tencent, Raine Ventures, Promus Ventures, Startcaps, Maven Ventures and Western Technology Investment.