The tech behind gaming’s immersive future

Technology has come a long way in video games since the days of the Atari 2600 and the Magnavox Odyssey. Joysticks have been replaced with numerous different types of gear that perform and monitor different things to do with each player.

This isn’t going to be another article telling you how cool or crap VR headsets can be, this piece discusses other types of tech that are either lesser known or not as talked about in the games press.

Eye tracking technology is becoming ever more prominent in the games industry with companies like Steelseries and Tobii promising the most accurate hardware currently available. EyeX and the Sentry Eye work by using sensors to follow your eyes and monitors the direction you are looking up to fifty times a second in order to provide players with the most precise tracking available.

steelseries

One of the key features of eye tracking tech is something called ‘Gaze Point’ that lets the players use their eyes in place of moving the mouse, so the player only has to click in order to move their character or shoot their weapon.

An example is in Assassin’s Creed: Rogue where the tracker will follow the player’s eye movements and adjust the camera based on where they are looking. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is another big game that has implemented eye tracking features, however these features are much more in-depth. In Mankind Divided the player can use a flick of the eye to aim, dash for cover, interact with objects and the environment and even supposedly select augmentations and weapons faster than with the regular controls. If used correctly, eye tracking could become one of the more influential technologies for this generation of games. It does however run the risk of becoming a gimmick for games, similar to the Kinect for Xbox that was hyped endlessly and failed to deliver.

The Real Sense camera developed by Intel, can be connected to a computer and reads the player’s heart rate and reactions in order to develop gameplay around the player’s swing of emotions. This is seen in 2015’s Nevermind, which uses the real sense camera to detect how the player is reacting to the game and changes what is going to happen in order to keep the player interested and enticed by the game.

Players can interact with the camera by using their hands and gesturing to collect items and move the character’s hand in game, as in the game Laserlife where the player shoots two laser beams through targets in order to collect molecules that contain memory fragments from a dead astronaut. The player uses their hands in order to control both of the beams and hit the targets in time with the music.

laserlife

Real Sense can also be used in order to scan the player’s face for character creation in games such as NBA 2K16 and in programs like Uraniom that allow the player to create a photorealistic avatar and import them into other games such as Skyrim, Fallout 4 and Arma 3. Real Sense has a chance to be a very fun and interesting tool for developers to collaborate with when making their games, in order to give the players a chance to play their game in a different way and offering a new experience compared to using a controller or a keyboard and mouse.

This tech is becoming more and more popular within the streaming community as popular streamers such as Sheever, a Dota 2 personality who streams regularly on Twitch using the Sentry Eye. It allows streamers to give their channels something others don’t have and also lets viewers see exactly how their favourite streamers play, as eye tracking shows up on the actual video and shows where the player is looking at directly.

With every new technology that comes to the games industry comes the risk of over-saturation and the product becoming nothing more than a gimmick. Hopefully the developers of these new technologies have learnt from the past and will be able to develop the best possible tech without it falling into the same traps.

The Eye X is available here.

Sentry is available here.

Real Sense is available here.

Adam Hitchcock

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