Virtual reality headset that you control with your eyes begins taking pre-orders

FOVE, the first VR headset that tracks your eyes as well as your head, has been made available to pre-order.

Headsets will begin shipping to original Kickstarter backers by the end of 2016, while all other preorders will begin shipping early next year.

FOVE is able to track eye movement by virtue of custom small form-factor infrared sensors inside the headset. These sensors bounce light off the retina to register how the eyes are angled.

Users can then control games and apps using eye movements, and virtual characters are capable of perceiving users’ gaze.

fove

FOVE is targeting the entertainment, education, gaming and medical industries with its gaze control in virtual reality interfaces. The technology has already enable a patient with muscular dystrophy to play a piano with his eyes.

“Eye-tracking is really critical for VR control,” said Yuka Kojima, CEO of Fove, in an interview with GamesBeat. “For me, it’s so natural. This is for early adopters now. But soon we think it will be a world standard.”

To give FOVE an initial boost it is being made available with a $50 discount for one week only, so it is available for $549.

Its makers have also partnered with 7,000 internet cafes in Japan and Korea. Through this partnership FOVE already has access to 25 million monthly users.

Images courtesy of FOVE

Images courtesy of FOVE

The headset has a OLED screen (2560 x 1440), with a frame rate of 70 frames per second. It has a 100-degree field-of-view.

It uses a 120 FPS infrared eye-tracking system and two cameras, and has HDMI, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 connectors. The headset connects to a Windows PC, and it requires a system with an Intel Core i5-4590 or better and 8GB of memory.

FOVE also requires a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970,  AMD R9 290 or greater GPU.

In terms of content 250-plus Steam VR titles are compatible with the device and FOVE have partnered with OSVR to make more titles available.

Live demos of the headset, including “Project Falcon,” a first-person rail-shooter developed in partnership with creative production company, Rewind, will be held at the VRDC event in San Francisco.

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Juno mission: Jupiter’s magnetic field is even weirder than expected

It has long been known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in the solar system, but the first round of results from NASA’s Juno mission has revealed that it is far stronger and more misshapen than scientists predicted.

Announcing the findings of the spacecraft’s first data-collection pass, which saw Juno fly within 2,600 miles (4,200km) of Jupiter on 27th August 2016, NASA mission scientists revealed that the planet far surpassed the expectations of models.

Measuring Jupiter’s magnetosphere using Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) tool, they found that the planet’s magnetic field is even stronger than models predicted, at 7.766 Gaus: 10 times stronger than the strongest fields on Earth.

Furthermore, it is far more irregular in shape, prompting a re-think about how it could be generated.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and magnetic field investigation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

An enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset. Featured image courtesy of NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

At present, scientists cannot say for certain why or how Jupiter’s magnetic field is so peculiar, but they do already have a theory: that the field is not generated from the planet’s core, but in a layer closer to its surface.

“This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen,” said Connerney.

However, with many more flybys planned, the scientists will considerable opportunities to learn more about this phenomenon, and more accurately pinpoint the bizarre magnetic field’s cause.

“Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works,” added Connerney.

With each flyby, which occurs every 53 days, the scientists are treated to a 6MB haul of newly collected information, which takes around 1.5 days to transfer back to Earth.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

A newly released image of Jupiter’s stormy south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

An unexpected magnetic field was not the only surprise from the first data haul. The mission also provided a first-look at Jupiter’s poles, which are unexpectedly covered in swirling, densely clustered storms the size of Earth.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) also threw up some surprises, with some of the planet’s belts appearing to penetrate down to its surface, while others seem to evolve into other structures. It’s a curious phenomenon, and one which the scientists hope to better explore on future flybys.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Bolton.

“If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”