Google is continuing to fuel rumours that it is developing a standalone augmented reality headset, separate from its Daydream phone-driven virtual reality efforts, with the acquisition of eye-tracking startup Eyefluence.
Founded in 2013, Eyefluence specialises in relaying eye position information to a computer system. Like Tobii, which in 2014 launched an eye-tracking add-on for gamers in partnership with SteelSeries
, that information can be used in a variety of ways: developers have used eye-tracking systems to allow users to shift the viewpoint of a first-person scene, to create a glasses-free three-dimensional display, and even to allow those unable to operate a computer with a keyboard and mouse to rapidly browse the web and enter text.
Google's interest in the technology, though, is rumoured to surround a planned entry into the standalone virtual or augmented reality market. Google was an early pioneer in this most recent wave of interest in VR technology, giving away the designs for its Cardboard add-on which turns a smartphone into a basic yet functional VR headset. More recently, the company has baked VR into its latest Android operating system in the form of Daydream, the successor to Cardboard.
With a potential AR/VR launch in the works, Eyefluence's announcement
that it has been acquired by Google makes sense. 'We recognised an opportunity to create a more natural, intuitive way to interact with augmented and virtual reality displays. Over the last three and a half years we have built an incredible team, advanced our eye-interaction technology, and created strong partnerships that have lead to the development of a completely new language for eye-interaction,
' claimed Eyefluence's Michelle Hodgden of her company's origins. 'Today, we are excited to announce that the Eyefluence team is joining Google! With our forces combined, we will continue to advance eye-interaction technology to expand human potential and empathy on an even larger scale. We look forward to the life-changing innovations we’ll create together!
Google has not confirmed its plans for the company, nor has it disclosed financial terms of the acquisition.