These progressive updates are only the tip of the VR iceberg
Relatively speaking, the exploration of virtual and augmented reality is only just beginning. The recent releases by Facebook and HTC, Oculus Rift S and HTC Cosmos respectively, are leagues ahead of previous Head Mounted Displays (HMDs), however still only scratch the surface. These are the updates we’re seeing in the Virtual Reality industry recently.
Haptic Feedback Gloves
One of the most awaited features is haptic feedback. Outside of VR and AR, haptic feedback already exists in gaming consoles such as Xbox and Playstation, and happens when controllers sense the action going on in the game and feedback on your hands in the form of minor or major vibrations.
Companies like Plexus and HaptX are developing gloves that would sense action in the VR environment and communicate back as vibrations through the gloves. Unlike regular controllers that require the user to tap buttons, the gloves are designed to create a more tactile experience.
Also known as ‘foveated rendering’, eye tracking is the capability of the HMD to track eye movement within your VR environment and render the areas in focus in high resolution.
This becomes useful considering the time delay in rendering VR environments. VR uses rendering software that needs to be large enough to accommodate the 3D environment and the information required for each element. To incorporate the steady movement, motion and input control, HMDs use either tethering (wires) to connect to a PC or a battery (untethered). This requires adequate processing speed to accommodate a 360 virtual reality experience, which when unmet creates low resolution imagery.
Eye tracking works to solve this lag by only rendering specific areas of the environment in high-res at a time, based on where the user is looking.
Oculus has announced they will incorporate Fixed Foveated Rendering, which will render the centre of the image in a higher resolution, which is a stepping stone in the direction of comprehensive eye tracking.
For optimum virtual reality environments, headsets have to be connected to a source through wires which can be disruptive to the user experience. Not so long ago, leading manufacturers like Oculus, Samsung and HTC addressed this issue by unveiling stand alone headsets that provide similar quality with a battery.
Oculus released Oculus Quest, which has proven to be a market favourite regarding seamless interaction with the virtual world without cables. Quest is widely regarded as the “chosen one” by many tech corporations and enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, HTC released two new HMDS, the Vive Pro (untethered) and Vive Cosmos (semi-tethered). Both the HMDs were developed after numerous requests for a better VR Headset for businesses.