Meta's CTO shot down the prospect of a Quest 3 eye tracking add-on.
When asked directly whether Quest 3 could see an eye tracking and/or face tracking add-on in the future during an Instagram AMA (ask me anything) session yesterday, Andrew Bosworth replied:
"There's not really a credible way to do eye tracking or upper-face tracking underneath the headset as an accessory. It's something that we've thought about every now and then, because it would be nice to be able to enable that for people. For eye tracking, you need to have this illumination all the way around the eyes - you're talking about replacing the eye cups. You need to have cameras in multiple positions, which are in kind of quite tight and sensitive areas. That's pretty tough.
Lower-face tracking is possible, I think, theoretically, but I'm not sure how useful it is without upper-face tracking and eye tracking. So this is something we've looked at, and it's really tough with eye tracking to do it outside of the core module itself."
Eye tracking can be used for foveated rendering, to drive your avatar eyes in social VR, for selection in user interfaces, to guide lens separation adjustment, and as a kind of auto-aim for throwing virtual objects.
Meta's Quest Pro headset has eye tracking and face tracking, but is stuck with a variant of the original Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 chipset despite being double the price of Quest 3 and Meta reportedly won't launch a successor until at least 2025, so some had hoped Quest 3 might gain its unique tracking features with an add-on accessory.
While Bosworth suggests eye tracking and face tracking add-ons aren't "credible" for Quest 3, that's exactly what HTC did with its Vive Focus 3 business-focused standalone headset.
Focus 3 originally launched in 2021, and in 2022 HTC launched a $250 Eye Tracker add-on and $100 Facial Tracker add-on. Both add-ons can be used simultaneously since Focus 3 has two USB-C ports.
During Bosworth's last AMA session in late October, he said that eye tracking will "at some point" be part of the "base package" for all Quest headsets, but cautioned that he's "not sure exactly when". Could eye tracking arrive in Quest 4, or might it take until Quest 5?