SAN JOSE, Calif. – Virtual reality goggles are edging close to a 15 millisecond response time in an effort to deliver immersive experiences that put game players into a scene. Developers have a few tricks up their sleeves to get to the ultra-low latency that could give birth to a new class of computer games.
"We will reignite the CPU/GPU race which plateaued on 2D screens," said Brendan Iribe, chief executive of Oculus VR in a keynote at AMD's annual developer conference here.
Prototype headsets are already running with latency of less than 20ms, edging toward the Holy Grail of 7-15ms. "We are not there today, but we are getting there very quickly," said Iribe who declined to give a ship date for the company's much anticipated Oculus Rift headset.
The problem is that users can move their heads faster than the headsets can render a new image. Displays can smear images as they try to catch up, giving users nausea.
The average latency between a user's head motion and a new pixel delivered to a display is about 45 milliseconds. Today's game engines need about a third of that time to define and render a new frame and displays need another third to switch on the pixels.
Oculus is "doing all kinds of R&D" on image persistence on a display, said Iribe. "Most of the [60 frames/second] view is black with displays mostly turned off except for the 1-2ms when they are exactly aligned" with the user's head, he said.
In addition, the current 1920 x 1080 prototypes use OLED screens that sport a 1ms switching time. Also, Oculus uses what it calls time warping, rending scenes at the maximum display rate of 80 to 95 frames/second, significantly faster than the game engine. "It's tricking your eyes, and it's a great experience," he said.
Oculus recently recruited as its chief technologist John Carmack, developer of PC games such as Doom and Quake that fueled the rise of 3D accelerator chips for PCs.
John Carmack is immersed in work on Oculus Rift.
Virtual reality goggles promise new immersive games and fantasy apps.
"One of best experiences in prototype internally is literally floating through a space world and being amazed at the scale," he said "There are hundreds of VR games being made, many by indies because it’s a new platform -- VR will change the world," he said.
There's a long horizon beyond the ambitious goal of getting out a headset that can keep up with a moving user. "You want to see your hands [in the virtual world] and you want eye tracking, but it's not going to happen for version one," he said.
An audience member asked for headsets that can work for people who wear glasses. "It's at the top of the priority list -- I wear glasses, too," he said.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times