from the don't-let-the-smoke-out-of-the-chips dept.
Tom's Hardware conducted an interview with Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR. The defining takeaway? Virtual reality needs as much graphics resources as can be thrown at it:
Tom's Hardware: If there was one challenge in VR that you had to overcome that you really wish wasn't an issue, which would it be?
Palmer Luckey: Probably unlimited GPU horsepower. It is one of the issues in VR that cannot be solved at this time. We can make our hardware as good as we want, our optics as sharp as we can, but at the end of the day we are reliant on how many flops the GPU can push, how high a framerate can it push? Right now, to get 90 frames per second [the minimum target framerate for Oculus VR] and very low latencies we need heaps of power, and we need to bump the quality of the graphics way down.
If we had unlimited GPU horsepower in everybody's computer, that will make our lives very much easier. Of course, that's not something we can control, and it's a problem that will be solved in due time.
TH: Isn't it okay to deal with the limited power we have today, because we're still in the stepping stones of VR technology?
PL: It's not just about the graphics being simple. You can have lots of objects in the virtual environment, and it can still cripple the experience. Yes, we are able to make immersive games on VR with simpler graphics on this limited power, but the reality is that our ability to create what we are imagining is being limited by the limited GPU horsepower.
[...] The goal in the long run is not only to sell to people who buy game consoles, but also to people who buy mobile phones. You need to expand so that you can connect hundreds of millions of people to VR. It may not necessarily exist in the form of a phone dropping into a headset, but it will be mobile technologies -- mobile CPUs, mobile graphics cards, etc.
In the future, VR headsets are going to have all the render hardware on board, no longer being hardwired to a PC. A self-contained set of glasses is a whole other level of mainstream.
[More after the Break]
Using [pixels per degree (PPD)], AMD calculated the resolution required as part of the recipe for truly immersive virtual reality. There are two parts of the vision to consider: there's the part of human vision that we can see in 3D, and beyond that is our peripheral vision. AMD's calculations take into account only the 3D segment. For good measure, you'd expand it further to include peripheral vision. Horizontally, humans have a 120-degree range of 3D sight, with peripheral vision expanding 30 degrees further each way, totaling 200 degrees of vision. Vertically, we are able to perceive up to 135 degrees in 3D.
With those numbers, and the resolution of the fovea (the most sensitive part of the eye), AMD calculated the required resolution. The fovea sees at about 60 PPD, which combined with 120 degrees of horizontal vision and 135 degrees of vertical vision, and multiplying that by two (because of two eyes) tallies up to a total of 116 megapixels. Yes, you read that right: 116 megapixels. The closest resolution by today's numbers is 16K, or around  megapixels.
While 90 Hz (albeit with reduced frame stuttering and minimal latency) is considered a starting point for VR, AMD ultimately wants to reach 200 Hz. Compare that to commercially available 2560×1440 @ 144 Hz monitors or HDMI 2.0 recently adding the ability to transport 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz. The 2016 consumer version of Oculus Rift will use two 1080×1200 panels, for a resolution of 2160×1200 refreshed at 90 Hz. That's over 233 million pixels per second. 116 megapixels times 200 Hz is 23.2 billion pixels per second. It's interesting (but no surprise) that AMD's endgame target for VR would require almost exactly one hundred times the graphics performance of the GPU powering the Rift, which recommends an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290.
In conclusion, today's consumer VR might deliver an experience that feels novel and worth $300+ to people. It might not make them queasy due to the use of higher framerates and innovations like virtual noses. But if you have the patience to wait for 15 years or so of early adopters to pay for stone/bronze age VR, you can achieve "absolute immersion," also known as enlightenment.
As reported by The Register :
A Purdue University undergraduate has picked a way to stop virtual reality inducing motion sickness: program in a virtual nose.
Fixed-reference objects help to stop the sickness, Whittinghill says, but not every simulation lends itself to the inclusion of something like the window frames in a cockpit to give the brain something to latch onto.
While discussing this problem, undergraduate Bradley Ziegler piped up with the idea of programming in a virtual nose. The idea is that we're all used to our hooters haunting our field of vision, so much so that we take it for granted that it's always possible to see a slice of schnoz.
Subjects given the virtual nose staved off simulation sickness longer than their noseless counterparts in a variety of simulations, including a sickness-inducing roller coaster ride. The original source provides more information, including a finding that test subjects didn't notice the virtual nose during testing, even displaying skepticism over its presence when told about it later during post-testing debriefings.
The British Museum is running a trial of virtual reality technology with a view to offering it as a permanent tool to explore its collection.
Families will be invited to navigate a virtual reality Bronze Age roundhouse and interact with 3D scans of objects. In June, London's Natural History Museum also started using VR technology. Both museums are using Samsung Gear VR headsets.
Only visitors aged 13 or over will be allowed to use the headsets in the British Museum. Families with younger children can use a Samsung Galaxy tablet or enter a dome with an interactive screen.
Visitors will be able to explore different interpretations of how the objects might have been used in the past. Among those on display will be two gold bracelets, discovered at a site in Gloucestershire, and treasures that the museum has not yet acquired. Other objects include a bronze dagger that was not intended for practical use because the blade was never sharpened and a bronze loop - believed to be a bracelet.
Chris Michaels, head of digital and publishing at the British Museum, said: "It gives us the chance to create an amazing new context for objects in our collection, exploring new interpretations for our Bronze Age objects."
Emily Smith, Head of Audience Development at the Natural History Museum, told the BBC: "The VR experience has been hugely popular with visitors. "We've increased the number of slots and are now running the experience daily in response to demand. Visitors have even been bursting into spontaneous applause at the end of the showings."
Google's R&D arm, Google Research, recently dedicated some time and resources to discovering ways to improve the performance of foveated rendering. Foveated rendering already promises vast performance improvements compared to full-resolution rendering. However, Google believes that it can do even better. The company identified three elements that could be improved, and it proposed three solutions that could potentially solve the problems, including two new foveation techniques and a reworked rendering pipeline.
Foveated rendering is a virtual reality technique that uses eye tracking to reduce the amount of image quality necessary in areas covered by the peripheral vision.
The new techniques mentioned are Phase-Aligned Rendering and Conformal Rendering.
Also at Google's Research Blog.
Related: Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey on the Need for "Unlimited Graphics Horsepower"
Google Implements Equi-Angular Cubemaps Technique for Better VR Quality
Oculus Research Presents Focal Surface Display. Will Eliminate Nausea in VR
Virtual Reality Audiences Stare Straight Ahead 75% of the Time
A former top executive at Facebook who was ousted from the company may have been fired over his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reported Sunday that Palmer Luckey has recently told people that he was fired for supporting Trump before that year's presidential election. Luckey's donation in September 2016 to NimbleAmerica, a group that funded ads attacking Hillary Clinton, reportedly sparked backlash within Facebook.
Six months after making that donation, Luckey was no longer at the company. The Journal noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress this year that Luckey's departure had nothing to do with his political beliefs.
According to the Journal, Luckey was first put on leave and later fired. In the fall of 2016, Zuckerberg pressured Luckey to voice support publicly for Gary Johnson, the libertarian nominee in that year's election, the Journal reported, citing internal emails and sources familiar with the conversations.
"Zuckerberg lied to Congress" could become a bipartisan statement.
Also at NBC.
Related: Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey on the Need for "Unlimited Graphics Horsepower"
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Palmer Luckey Donates to CrossVR Patreon
Oculus Co-Founder Brendan Iribe Leaves Facebook