Travel Tech

As virtual reality continues to develop as a viable technology for digital marketers, a new virtual reality headset has emerged via a Kickstarter campaign. FOVE is a Japanese project which has already raised over two-thirds of its $250,000 goal, with over a month left in its crowd funding campaign. Just a few hours after the Kickstarter went live, FOVE had raised over $105,000.

Eye-Tracking Technology

Named after the fovea, the part of the eye responsible for central vision, FOVE claims to be the first VR headset available to consumers to use eye-tracking technology. The virtual reality headset utilises a technique which is known as foveated rendering. This new technology takes advantage of a sophisticated graphics engine which calculates what users are looking at any given time, and then concentrates rendering and processing power in that area in order to provide it with a higher resolution.

This particular system ensures that FOVE is able to conserve a huge amount of rendering power, and it makes the technology compatible with a white range of devices. According to FOVE co-founder and chief executive officer Yuka Kojima, it will eventually be possible to use the virtual reality headset with mobile technology, including smartphones.

As with most virtual reality systems, FOVE is being particularly aimed at gamers, with the potential to utilise the sophisticated technology in order to make direct eye contact with characters, or aim weapons by directly citing a particular target. The designers and advocates of this system suggest that this will produce a particularly immersive experience for anyone that utilises it.

With FOVE creating a lot of excitement in the video gaming industry, it is stated that a release which enables developers to port games into the FOVE ecosystem will be released as early as next year. But this technology also has applications which extend well beyond video gaming.

Health Potential

Developers have already worked with one teenager suffering from motoneuron disease in order to create software which enables him to play the piano via virtual reality technology. It is also hoped by the founders of the hardware that it could be utilised by people with limited mobility in order to help them type or play games. Researchers in Japan are also currently exploring how the eye-tracking technology utilised in FOVE can be put to good use in assisting people with conditions such as Asperger's Syndrome and autism.

The FOVE headset has been scheduled for delivery in May 2016, with the headset apparently already accruing hands-on support from East Asian electronic giants Toshiba and Samsung. With numerous working prototypes already developed, the Kickstarter campaign attached to this virtual reality project insists that the money raised will ensure that FOVE can be refined so that its eye-tracking technology works equally well with people of all eye shapes.

With Sony apparently backing this technology, it is clear that the FOVE project has a good deal of potential. This crowd funded virtual reality solution just adds to a growing trend for VR which is about to reach a crescendo. With the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift and at the Sony-funded Project Morpheus set to release in the next year or so, the notion of virtual reality being available on a daily basis to people all over the world may be about to become a reality.

This can be seen as a time of genuine scientific breakthrough, as the idea of virtual reality has been sought-after for many years. The concept has been a perpetual topic of science fiction, with the theme of multiple worlds centrally associated with the work of Philip K Dick; the author of the novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ on which ‘Blade Runner’ was based, along with many other seminal works of science fiction.

VR to Achieve Consumer Penetration

While the imaginative worlds created by Dick may be somewhat different from the reality, the fact remains that virtual reality is almost certain to achieve significant consumer penetration in the near future. Not only is this exciting technology which everyday people will want to use, but it is also pretty affordable, and immediately has a practical application. Video gamers are getting extremely excited in a large numbers about the release of Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift, and now they have another virtual reality project to focus on.

There are huge travel marketing opportunities available via virtual reality, with the Digital Tourism Think Tank having reported elsewhere on the ability of both destinations and travel-related companies to offer virtual tours. The funding success of FOVE is just another example of how big this technology will become in the next few years, and it is certainly something to which shrewd digital marketers in the tourist industry will be playing very close attention. It is particularly interesting to note in this case that FOVE is compatible with mobile, opening up entirely new frontiers for digital marketers within this crucial platform.


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