Asuna, a character from popular Japanese anime Sword Art Online, could soon guide players playing Virtual Reality (VR) games. Her avatar could greet, interact and teach gamers who opt for Fove O, a next-generation VR gear with eye tracking features. The gamers using the successful Kickstarter campaign’s flagship product will have SAO’s Asuna intelligently judge if they are looking at her and then show them the way.
Sword Art Online, a popular Japanese anime will soon get its third season after a rather long hiatus. However, the tech-inspired anime’s fans have something additional to be excited about. A new VR gaming headset with powerful sensors to judge head movement and even track eyes will have Asuna, SAO‘s female protagonist, as their guide. The character is expected to be pivotal in engaging new and seasoned players in the long run. Meanwhile, the SAO experience was crafted to welcome new users, and teach them how to use Fove 0, the first commercially available VR headset with integrated eye-tracking, reported Anime News Network.
FOVE O: An Eye Tracking Virtual Reality Headset : Tech/Biz : Auto World News https://t.co/DB66f0Bzun
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Asuna is expected to act as a concierge to new users. Fove O users will be able to virtually meet Asuna and interact with her. However, the interaction is unlike the ones that gamers have experienced so far. Till date, any interaction with the virtual game characters was triggered by approaching it or standing next to it. Players often had to evoke the conversation by either pressing a combination of buttons or standing uncomfortably as the character would launch into a monologue. Needless to add, the conversation never appeared real or natural. The interaction was often limited to some specific set of key phrases or keywords that evoke a preset response from the virtual character.
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However, that is about to change. The Fove O VR gaming headset reportedly offers advanced eye-tracking capabilities. This allows Asuna to intelligently judge when the player is looking at her. If that’s not all, she will also be able to tell where the player’s eye drifts when she is speaking.
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Besides the upcoming Season 3 of Sword Art Online, the VR experience was reportedly created to honor of the upcoming Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (2017) film. The Fove O headset was launched in Japan on January 31. It will be made available in the local markets first. The makers are also promising to release the headset in Korea. The availability is expected to last until July 31. Residents of the country can download the experience. Unfortunately, there’s no official confirmation about the SAO “Welcome Experience” international availability outside Japan and Korea. However, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is being prepped for Western audiences. The movie will be released simultaneously with English subtitles. Hence it is quite possible the VR experience might be translated into English.
Incidentally, the SAO experience doesn’t appear to be part of any game. Instead, it seems to be a demonstration of Fove O headset’s advanced eye tracking feature. The experience reportedly showcases the ability of the headset to judge the users’ eyes and execute relative actions in the virtual world, quite similar to Iron Man’s helmet, which is remotely assisted by JARVIS.
[Featured Image by Reki Kawahara/Sword Art Online/ASCII Media Works]