Developers Agree SMI Eye Tracking Creates a “Greater Sense of Shared Presence” in VR

VR and AR Eye Tracking
SMI Social Eye with PlutoVR and Against Gravity

SAN FRANCISCO USA, March 3, 2017: Two firms innovating in social VR have tried SMI’s Social Eye and agree it dramatically improves the shared experience between avatars in virtual worlds.

Launched early this year, SMI Social Eye is a plugin based on SMI’s proven eye tracking technology that enables true human connection in face-to-face situations. One of the first to trial it was Against Gravity with its “virtual reality social club” Rec Room. It found it created more engaging social interactions.

“In Rec Room, we’ve noticed that eye tracking is especially helpful in managing the flow of conversations between groups.  The ability to make and break eye contact is an important signal about whose turn it is to talk.  With eye tracking, people are less likely to talk over one another because they can reliably get those signals,” said Nick Fajt, CEO, Against Gravity.

“Eye tracking allows us to add subtle but important cues regarding tone and intent that really enrich the social experience in VR.”

Also first to try it, communications start-up Pluto VR, which noted that the eye tracking behind SMI Social Eye works with everyone.

“SMI eye tracking performed better than expected, and with all of the people we have tried it with,” said Pluto VR Co-Founder Jared Cheshier. “It’s really exciting to see more shared information about people’s eyes, even when they’re wearing an HMD. It has helped us experience an even greater sense of shared presence in virtual reality.”

These positive reviews on the eve of GDC have been welcomed by Christian Villwock, SMI’s Director of OEM Solutions Business, who said; “We long ago recognised the potential of social VR and that was a key motivator for the creation of the SMI Social Eye. Now, it’s fantastic to hear that it has been used by pioneers in this space and we can all see the vast improvement it makes to social interactions in VR.

“But eye contact in VR doesn’t happen without eye tracking in VR headsets – and that’s one reason we believe eye tracking is a ‘must have’ for next generation VR”.

Other benefits of eye tracking for VR include gaze-controlled menus and foveated rendering, which produces a richer VR experience with greatly reduced computational demands.

The SMI Social Eye is built upon SMI’s robust eye tracking technology that reliably works with all eye and skin types, with contact lenses and with glasses.

Both Against Gravity and Pluto VR used SMI Social eye on an HTC Vive modified with SMI Eye Tracking.

About SMI

SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) has been a world leader in eye tracking technology for 25 years, developing and marketing eye & gaze tracking systems for scientists and professionals, as well as OEM and medical solutions for a wide range of applications. Find out more at Follow @SMIeyetracking on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter.

Media Contacts
SensoMotoric Instruments GmbH (SMI)
Tim Stott
+49 (0) 162 271 61 66


Press Contact

Tim Stott

Tim Stott

Press Contact

+49 (0) 162 271 61 66