NVIDIA is announcing a "new technique" for VR using eye-tracking technology from SMI, and with this NVIDIA's researchers are working to "match the physiology of the human eye to heighten visual fidelity in VR".

Image credit: NVIDIA

NVIDIA provides this description and video demo of the new tech:

"The demo – which we’re bringing to the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Anaheim, Calif., July 24-28 – is simple. Strap on a head-mounted display with integrated eye tracking. Look around the virtual scene of a school classroom with blackboard and chairs. Looks good, right?

Now gaze at the teacher’s chair, turn off the eye tracking and look around again. Only the area around the chair is rendered in detail. In your periphery the demo was rendering a less detailed version of the image — and you couldn’t tell."

NVIDIA further explains the technology:

"Human vision can be thought of as having two components: foveal and peripheral vision. The small region of your retina called the fovea is densely packed with cones — a type of photoreceptor cell — providing sharp and detailed vision. Peripheral vision covers a much wider field of view but lacks acuity.

This acuity difference has inspired foveated rendering systems, which track the user’s gaze and seek to increase graphics performance by rendering with lower image quality in the periphery. However, foveated rendering taken too far will lead to visible artifacts, such as flicker, blur or a sense of “tunnel vision.”

Our researchers used SMI’s prototype eye-tracking HMD to perform a careful perceptual study of what people actually see in their peripheral vision in VR. Our researchers then used those insights to design a new rendering algorithm that enables much greater foveation, or reduction in rendering effort, without any discernible drop in visual quality."

There's a lot more information about this new VR technology in NVIDIA's blog post (source), and the company also has a project page up for this "Perceptually-Based Foveated Virtual Reality" technique.