VR prototypes reveal Facebook’s surprisingly critical research guidelines – Hackaday

just, Tested posted a video about everything practical time with prototype virtual reality (VR) headsets from Meta (which is to say, Facebook) and there are some really interesting parts. The video itself lasts more than an hour, but if you are primarily interested in technical angles and why they are important for VR, read on because we will highlight each of the main points of the research.

As absurd as it may seem to many of us to have a social network leading the significant development of VR, it cannot be said that they do not take it seriously. It’s also refreshing to see that each of the prototypes depicts a researcher who is obviously thrilled to talk about his work. The big dream is to understand what it takes to pass the “visual Turing test,” which means delivering visuals that are equal to those in physical reality. Some of these critical elements may come as a bit of a surprise as they go in directions beyond resolution and field of view.

Demonstration of a semi-focal lens with a variable focus, capable of 32 discrete focal steps.

On 9:35 in the video,, [Douglas Lanman] shows [Norman Chan] how important variable focus is to provide a good visual experience, followed by an overview of all the different prototypes they used to do so. Currently, VR headsets display visuals in only one focal plane, but this means that, among other things, the approach of a virtual object to the eyes becomes blurred. (By the way, this part is not very strange for older people because it is a common side effect of aging.)

The solution is to change the focus based on where the user is looking, and [Douglas] shows all the different ways this has been explored: from motors and actuators that mechanically change the focal length of the screen, to a solid-state solution composed of stacked elements that can selectively converge or diverge light based on its polarization. [Doug]Pride and excitement are palpable, and he really goes into detail about everything.

At 30:21,, [Yang Zhao] explains the importance of higher resolution screens, and also talks about lenses and optics. Interestingly, the ultra-clear display of text enabled by the high-resolution screen is not what it eventually captured [Norman]attracts the most attention. When high resolution is combined with variable focus, textures on pillows, vivid wall art and patterns on walls [Norman] discovered that he simply could not stop researching.

Next at 39:40 is something really interesting, which shows [Phillip Guan]. VR headsets have to apply software corrections for distortions, and it turns out that these corrections can be complex. Not only does the image get a certain amount of distortion when it passes through the lens, but also that distortion changes in nature depending on where one’s eye is looking. All of this has to be corrected in high-fidelity experience software, but the real bottleneck is waiting for a physical prototype to be built, and it is complicated by the fact that different people will have slightly different subjective distortion experiences. To address this, [Phillip] shows a device whose purpose is to accurately simulate different physical headphone designs (including different lenses and users) in software, allowing research into different designs without the need for actual fabrication.

The final prototype – named Starburst for reasons that will soon become clear – is shown at 44:30 and shows the power of true high dynamic range. It’s the most awkward looking, but that’s mostly because it basically has headlights in the car as backlights. The purpose is not to blind users, but to deliver something important that is missing. Why is high brightness so important? The answer is simple: real-world light levels are far above anything a modern monitor (or VR headset) can deliver. This means that in VR spotlights really only look like a picture reflectors. It will never look real bright, not the way your eyes and brain actually experience the word. When headphones can provide a true HDR experience, that will change, and that’s what this prototype provides.

Clearly, this direction is taken very seriously and it may come as a surprise to learn that providing a compelling visual experience goes far beyond greater resolution and a wider field of view. All the really good VR ideas may have been devised back in the 1960sbut this video is an excellent account of what goes into the little scientific work of discovering how to solve a problem.

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