The ultimate goal of VR is to have nothing attached to you with overlaid CGI indistinguishable to the real world, or if we must have attached hardware then it will be implants or tiny wearables. But in the times we currently live, we will just have to make do with what is available now and around the corner.
So, what can we expect to happen for the next round of VR headsets? My prediction is that the following technology could be included in the next versions of headsets.
- Foveated rendering.
This is a technology that as an end result will produce higher quality detail using lower cost hardware. At the moment the minimum NVidia card for VR use is a GTX 970, with the power to push millions of pixels down the cable to the headset display at a minimum of 90 times a second. Foveated rendering tries to reduce the amount of pixels that need calculating by sending different amounts of pixel data based on where your eyes are focused. So lets say you are looking at an orange in a full fruit bowl on a table inside a kitchen. The orange is what you are looking at so that would appear in full resolution with all pixels from the GPU being sent to the display in that small inner radius you are focused on. The fruit bowl which is slightly in your peripheral vision would cause the GPU to calculate only 60% of the pixels that need sending and the remaining kitchen would just need 20% of the pixels rendering. The aim here is to have an indistinguishable image to that of a full frame but uses much less GPU power to do it. It is a very interesting technology which will help bring the cost of VR down while boosting the quality. The downside is that it needs eye tracking hardware to do it so would likely come in the next version of the headsets. Check out this article to read more
- Retinal projection.
Ok, this one is a little more out there but as technology advances and LCD hits limitations due to GPU demands then you look at light emission technology which is pixeless. Most people think aiming light at your eyes is akin to a death ray that will burn your eyeballs to a crisp. Just like in the real world, emitted light reflects off objects and hits your eyeballs which the brain translates into images. So small diodes reflecting light directly onto your eyeball isn’t such a scare. Many companies are researching and producing this technology at the moment with varying degrees of success. One to watch in this arena is Avegant Glyph
- Hand and finger tracking.
Waving around a wand or positional tracking controller is a great step forwards in immersion compared to say an XBox controller. The feeling of holding an object that could be anything in the VR world is a wonderful experience. Still, it would be even better if we didn’t need something to hold in VR and just used our natural hands for interaction. Grabbing, tapping, swiping, turning, gesturing, pointing and many other hand signals are useful. The guys at Leap Motion have been working on this tech for ages and it could appear built into your next Rift / Vive rather than as a stick on device. Even microsoft are working hard in this area for their next XBox console.
- Wireless connectivity.
Having a pile of wires attaching your head to a computer/console is a big gripe of mine. Low latency wireless video/data would be very welcome.
To finish I also want a huge black panther hologram to run a few feet above my car as I drive about and I want its head to look where my head looks please. AR Bling for the win!
Maybe not yet but it’s a start.