Sci-tech

VR gets closer to reality

VR gets closer to reality”

"Working with a prototype of its headset so early that I slightly burned my fingers when I touched a chip on its surface, Varjo showed a number of VR scenes in the native resolution of what an Oculus Rift would display". "It's just the housing", he said.

"A demo I experienced provided a literally small window into the future. There was a simple room with a TV in the corner streaming video; a shapeless environment with some floating computer monitors; a plane cockpit".

In The Verge's time with this custom Oculus Rift, it found that such a machine gave more clarity inside VR scenes, making smaller details that much more visible.

What Varjo is doing with this hack is similar to a technique known as foveated rendering, which shows you the highest-resolution images just at the spot where your eye is focused, and lower-resolution images in the periphery of your field of view (much like the fovea, which is a point on the retina of the eye, does).

If virtual reality's recent evolution has seemed like a blur to you, that's probably because it is.

Varjo, however, claims an effective resolution that's almost 70 times greater than today's headsets. It showed a slight shimmer on the border between the low- and high-resolution portions that proved a tiny bit disorienting.

The 20/20 headset could also offer professionals more privacy. With Varjo's technology, those same things are crystal clear. Otherwise, gamers would get a "screen-door" effect - where one can distinguish individual pixels - that could dampen the whole immersive aspect of VR.

The improvement is such that users reported being able to read small signs and individual documents in VR environments - something existing virtual reality systems generally can not handle.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to be able to match the resolution of human eyesight. Nvidia requires a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU or higher, while on the AMD side, you'll need a Radeon RX 480 or better.

Varjo, which means "shadow" in Finnish, looks to solve this issue with a headset that offers resolutions more than 70X beyond anything that is now shipping or has been announced (including Magic Leap). And eventually, Varjo wants to sell to consumers as well.

Varjo recently demonstrated this approach to Variety with a prototype headset that combined an Oculus Rift with a second display overlaid at the center of the screen. This tricks the eye into thinking it is looking at a much higher resolution image. That Sony microdisplay? It's $900 a pop, considerably more expensive by itself than any other VR headset on the market.

Varjo is expected to start launching virtual reality hardware and headsets specifically for professional users sometime late in Q4 2017 says the company. Having now emerged from stealth, the plan is to implement its technology into shipping products for professionals under its own brand. Architecture, real estate, automakers, hospitals. What could cause other players in the industry to get nervous is the patent portfolio that Varjo has amassed.

Varjo sees the headset as more than strictly VR, though. They would also be totally unusable, because at the frame rates needed for VR, such displays would burn through 50-100 GBs of data per second.

The short answer is no. Games have to be designed for virtual reality, and at the moment, most are not.



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