The first time you put on an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PS VR, chances are you were a little disappointed that VR, while undoubtedly impressive, is still a while away from aping the way we look at the real world. One problem here is simply a matter of resolution, but another concerns the way our eyes focus on objects - and Oculus reckons it's just taken a big step forward in this area.
The VR company is set to present a research paper at the SIGGRAPH Conference in Los Angeles in July, but just sent us over an early look. The paper reveals research from Oculus into focal surface displays; put simply, it's about mimicking the way our eyes naturally adjust when focusing on objects at varying distances, which VR doesn't yet do.
Right now, VR games and experiences have to "decide" what objects and environments are in focus, which is why some other things look blurry. This is because light from all objects, be they close or far away, enters our eyes at the same time. Oculus's new method, however, uses spatial light modulators to "bend" light and give different focus distances to different parts of the same object. So it'll look more like, y'know, reality.
Not only will it make VR look better, it will potentially mean you'd no longer need to wear prescription glasses with a headset.
If you've been following the developments in VR tech, you'll have heard about foveated rendering, which aims to produce a similar effect. The difference with this technique, however, is that this relies on eye-tracking tech to blur out objects outside of your direct line of sight - sort of tricking your eyes into thinking they're naturally adjusting.
Oculus says we're a "long way" from seeing its latest ideas in a consumer product, so cool your jets for the moment, but there's no doubt the Oculus Rift 2 will have some major improvements in the visuals, be it foveated rendering or this method. We also expect to see a bump-up in the resolution.
How we test