AMD has been showing the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco its LiquidVR SDK that will help developers customise virtual reality content for AMD hardware.
AMD said that LiquidVR SDK makes a number of technologies available which help address obstacles in content, comfort and compatibility that together take the industry a major step closer to true, life-like presence across all VR games, applications, and experiences.
Its theory is that which company wins the war to make virtual reality worthwhile will be the outfit that can build the strongest sense of “presence.” This is jargon for the feeling you have of actually being in the virtual world.
Like most things computer geeky it can be determined by a maths formula which is based on the speed with which the virtual world (within your view) updates as you move.
If you physically turn your head but there’s even a short pause before your view updates in the virtual world, the sense of actually being in the world is lost.
Oculus has signed up for AMD’s LiquidVR SDK and Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus said that achieving presence in a virtual world continues to be one of the most important elements to delivering amazing VR.
“We’re excited to have AMD working with us on their part of the latency equation, introducing support for new features like asynchronous timewarp and late latching, and compatibility improvements that ensure that Oculus’ users have a great experience on AMD hardware.”
AMD showed off several features of the LiquidVR SDK at the conference, including Affinity Multi-GPU, which lets multiple GPUs work together in VR applications (important for framerate improvements) and asynchronous shaders for Hardware-Accelerated Time-Warp, which is meant to improve motion-to-photon latency, or your sense of presence.
Many people find wearing virtual reality headsets gives them a headache or makes them feel sick, but that hasn’t stopped Taiwanese firm HTC by announcing it will sell a system later this year.
The company made its announcement at the Mobile World Congress, an annual shindig in Barcelona where vendors vie with each other to attract attention for forthcoming products.
HTC is cooperating with Valve, a US company that specialises in video games, to let you pretend you’re walking around virtual rooms and psychotically blasting virtual foes to cyber eternity.
The HTC unit, called the Vive, can show video at a whopping 90 frames a second, and has two 1200 x 1800 pixel screens. It includes a number of sensors including an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
HTC has had a somewhat troubled time in the last two years as its core mobile business suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous vendors like Apple and Samsung. A VR headset is a new departure for the company, which also used the MWC shining to launch an Android handset to not much enthusiasm.
While virtual reality (VR) has been around for a good old while, a market research firm now predicts massive growth in the marketplace.
ABI Research said it expects to see three million VR units ship this year, but that will soar to 55 million by 2020.
It believes that head mounted displays will be the winning form factor for both augmented reality (AR) and VR.
The reason for the growth is that mobile reliant devices such as the Samsung Gear VR will be successful, while “tethered defices” and stand alone devices are likely to need more time to mature.
One of the reasons is that existing software, like CAD (computer aided design) software, can be easily modified to support VR devices.
Sports networks and video makers will also start supporting these type of devices.
ABI believes that it won’t be until next year before this market really starts to fly.
A true virtual reality machine is a lot longer away than many believe, warns AMD.
AMD’s chief gaming scientist Richard Huddy said that getting photorealism in games is impossible in the current virtual reality hardware.
Talking to Develop, Huddy said that virtual reality was a staggeringly exciting field.
“But hardware companies need to produce something 100 or 200 times more powerful than current hardware if we’re going to get to the stage where we have complete photorealism in virtual reality headsets. It starts with the facts that, for a person with 20:20 vision, they will need a screen with a resolution of about 8k-by-6k to enjoy photorealism.”
This sort of statement flies in the face of many of the claims of the tech press who have been looking at the current generations of virtual headset.
Huddy predicts about 35 million pixels per eye should suffice for VR photorealism. That’s still 75 million pixels, taking us to a 35-fold increase compared to a standard 1080p monitor.
To get an indication about how far you have to go to get close to that Huddy you will need to get a 400x-to-1000x increase in horsepower to engender true, convincing VR photorealism that is indistinguishable from the real world.
Yesterday we reported that Thomas Cook wants to woo customers by showing them fun places they might like to book a holiday.
And so they might be interested in research from UCLA which finds the brain reacts completely differently to virtual reality than to seeing and hearing things in the real world.
Mayank Mehta, a UCLA professor of physics, said that his and his teams findings could well be significant for people who use VR for gaming, military, commercial or other purposes.
Mehta said: “The pattern of activity in a brain region involved in spatial learning in the virtual world is completely different than when it processes activity in the real world. Since so many people are using virtual reality, it is important to understand why there are such big differences.”
The UCLA boffins studied the hippocampus, a part of the brain which plays a big part in creating new memories and mental spatial maps.
The scientists believe that the hippocampus measures distances between a person and surrounding landmarks, aided by other sense impressions like sounds and smells.
The scientists tested rats in virtual and real worlds and measured the activity of hundreds of neurons in their hippocampi in both environments. The results were entirely different – in VR the rats’ hippocampi fired randomly “as if the neurons had no idea where the rat was”. Mehta said the mental map “disappeared completely”. Over half of the neurons in the hippocampi shut down in VR.
Want to book a holiday abroad? Thomas Cook claims that it’s going to give you the experience of a lifetime before you ever get near an airport.
The firm said it will use head mounted virtual reality display headsets to customers in a number of shops it has in the UK, Germany and Belgium.
Thomas Cook said it is introducing the virtual reality following successful trials in the massive Bluewater concept store earlier this year.
The company has already created a number of virtual reality experiences including a helicopter tour of Manhattan, a visit to a pool at a resort in Rhodes, and a trip to the restaurant in Cyprus. Other content will include a boat tour round the Statue of Liberty, a drive in New York in a yellow taxi cab.
The content will also be made available on the company’s website so you can look at the content on your tablet, rather than putting your head in the gadget (pictured).
Marco Ryan, head of new things at Thomas Cook, said: “Our use of VR is set to enhance the in store shopping experience for Thomas Cook customers, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding their next holiday.”