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Carmack On VR Latency

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.

Displays 94

An anonymous reader writes "For a while now, John Carmack has been pushing to bring virtual reality technology back to the gaming world. VR was largely abandoned over a decade ago when it became apparent that the hardware just wasn't ready to support it. In 2013, things are different; cheap displays with a high pixel density and powerful processors designed for small systems are making virtual reality a... reality. One of the last obstacles to be conquered is latency — the delay between moving your head and seeing your perspective change in the virtual world. In a lengthy and highly-technical post at #AltDevBlogADay, Carmack has outlined a number of strategies for mitigating and reducing latency. With information and experience like this being shared with the game development community at large, it shouldn't be long until VR makes a permanent place for itself in our gaming lives."

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Eerrrr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42984747)

I thought 3D printing was the future?

Re:Eerrrr (0)

officialkirill (2723541) | about a year ago | (#42984795)

tick-tack, 15 minutes are up

Re:Eerrrr (1, Interesting)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#42984869)

You mean "Tock"?

Also, VR will make a massive comback if, as I suspect, Google Glass takes off and competitors crop up. This isn't a new idea, since Steve Mann has been wired for VR since, what? The 80's? I think its time has come.

Re:Eerrrr (3, Insightful)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#42985537)

Google Glass doesn't have anything to do with VR. You are confusing it with Augmented Reality.

Re:Eerrrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985859)

The two aren't related, but think of it from the public's perspective. Both are wearable computing devices that give you extra data - one is just see through. They are designed for different uses and different environments, but if you got a trial pair of Google Glasses with your new iNexusDroid Touch 9S, you would probably be less wary about buying Oculus Rift (or however it's spelled). And if you played with your brother's VR games, you would be less uncomfortable with wearing always-on computer glasses than if you hadn't.

A major kill point for most technology is "Do people dismiss it out of hand because they think it's too far-fetched and looks too stupid to outweigh the gain they see from it." If multiple forms of bulky, face-mounted[!] wearable computing show up at the same time, it will be a lot easier for any of them to last.

Re:Eerrrr (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#42986033)

incidentally Google Glass has very little to do with AR. Its just a transparent 320x200 (or less) resolution display with camera for your phone :/

Re:Eerrrr (1)

cnettel (836611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988449)

incidentally Google Glass has very little to do with AR. Its just a transparent 320x200 (or less) resolution display with camera for your phone :/

Having a display at a constant spot in your field of view, and a camera perfectly aligned with your field of view, doesn't give you possibilities to quite immersively augment your perception of reality? Come again?

Re:Eerrrr (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988951)

incidentally Google Glass has very little to do with AR. Its just a transparent 320x200 (or less) resolution display with camera for your phone :/

Having a display at a constant spot in your field of view, and a camera perfectly aligned with your field of view, doesn't give you possibilities to quite immersively augment your perception of reality? Come again?

not if the display is in the corner of your eye instead of overlapping said reality
but hey, Im sure that wont stop Google from redefining AR to "reality with some subtitles in the corner"

Invest in AR, not VR (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42989071)

You mean "Tock"?

Also, VR will make a massive comback if, as I suspect, Google Glass takes off and competitors crop up. This isn't a new idea, since Steve Mann has been wired for VR since, what? The 80's? I think its time has come.

You are confusing VR with AR. Augmented reality systems like Google Glass simply overlay information about our environment in our visual field -- it doesn't replace reality like a VR system is supposed to, it just augments it. Augmenting reality *is* trivial, and the solutions are easily within the domain of current and near-term forseeable engineering technology. Functional VR, otoh, means directly interfacing with the proprioception/kinesthesia network in human neural anatomy that tells the brain what the body is doing in relation to other objects in the mental model of the environment. Modeling those other objects is trivial, as most VR researchers, including Carmack, will assert, but VR researchers are going to also have to figure out how to intercept, decode, modulate and retransmit the electrical impulses traversing the PK network that represent your body's position relative to those objects, which is decidedly non-trivial, especially while suppressing the original signals telling your brain that you are actually motionless, and even more especially doing it in a reversible way. These solutions, IMHO, require way more knowledge of human neural anatomy than we presently have, and will require the invention of new bio-engineering technologies to exploit it once we have that knowledge. AR has a distinct market advantage right now, so I'm certain Carmack and other VR researchers will turn their ingenuity to AR and away from VR, once they realize this.

Re:Invest in AR, not VR (1)

Lussarn (105276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42990171)

If it's ok with you I put your post in my dictionary as a description for "Technobabble".

After decoding it I understand that anything below matrix quality immersion can't be called VR, according to you.

Re:Invest in AR, not VR (1)

Hast (24833) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992363)

Carmack, Abrash and Palmer Luckey talked about this during the Virtual Insanity session at QuakeCon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gaqQdyfAz8), And they point out that augmented reality is harder than VR for a few reasons.

The biggest ones are that your latency tolerances are much lower since you are comparing with reality. So any latency you add will be very obvious to the user as the things will seem to "float" on top of the real objects. Furthermore the way our eyes perceive depth makes it very difficult to completely fool the eyes that what they are seeing is real. Eg most systems today will cause you to focus at infinity. This works well enough in a VR environment, because everything is the same. But in a AR situation if you are looking at something you hold in your hand and replace part of it with AR then that part will be at infinite focus. So when you look at it it looks wrong. (It's similar to if you see a reflection in a screen, and you can consciously shift focus to the screen or to the object being reflected.)

You also don't need to completely fool the brain in order to get feelings of height and stuff like that. Even people who try Cave systems say that you get a feeling of falling if you jump of a virtual cliff.

And there are systems which actually do directly manipulate your sense of balance and movement. Look up galvanic vestibular stimulation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_vestibular_stimulation),

Re:Eerrrr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985309)

"Tick", hyphen, "tack"? Your 3D printed clock sounds like junk.

Re:Eerrrr (2)

drkim (1559875) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987575)

"Tick", hyphen, "tack"? Your 3D printed clock sounds like junk.

But his breath is minty fresh.

Two Words (1)

funky49 (182835) | about a year ago | (#42984759)

Dactyl Nightmare

Re:Two Words (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986447)

I used to work for a company doing VR arcade games.

Dactyl Nightmare was the big kid in a very small playground.

mostly already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42984859)

One: laser ring gyros instead of mechanical accelerometer or visual head tracking systems
two: Render a frame larger than FOV and digitally move that before the next frame is rendered.

Not hard.

Re:mostly already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985105)

One: laser ring gyros instead of mechanical accelerometer or visual head tracking systems
two: Render a frame larger than FOV and digitally move that before the next frame is rendered.

Hey, your item number two doesn't work for all cases of motion wrt perspective.

I thought IBM studied this problem years ago and decided that 10 ms is the max latency tolerable between typing a character on a keyboard and seeing it on a display. Never mind full-on VR which might turn out to require even lower latencies.

Re:mostly already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985171)

IBM found latency to be 1/10 second (100 ms) not 10 ms.

Re:mostly already done (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year ago | (#42985515)

yeah. Fred Brooks handled that last millennium.

Re:mostly already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42986345)

Perspective shift can lag a lot more than axial shift. People don't really move fast enough for perspective on anything to change that much between frames.. However, a good approximation can occur in the same transform as the shift and rotate.

Re:mostly already done (1)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986711)

Hacking one of the gyro based optical image stabilisers from digital cameras would do the trick. Stabilise the overall frame and lose the motion sickness, lag in moving elements (and perspective changes) won't be noticed or won't be noticed enough to break immersion. Having the entire scene out of sync is very easy to detect, even if you aren't consciously aware of it.

I briefly worked for a VR company last century, 1st day they pointed out that stereo is an option not a necessity, so is resolution. All that matters is minimising lag (which implies good tracking as a prerequisite). Still just as true today. Turns out you can cope with (slow) drift in the tracking as well, it's annoying rather than immersion breaking.

Re:mostly already done (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about a year and a half ago | (#42990097)

One: laser ring gyros instead of mechanical accelerometer or visual head tracking systems two: Render a frame larger than FOV and digitally move that before the next frame is rendered.

Not hard.

The first costs on materials, power and research, and the second requires loads of processing power. Cheap compared to the cost of, say, an F35, but expensive for consumer electronics (which I gather is the point for this article).

For your edification as an armchair specialist on laser ring gyroscopes, framebuffers and all things VR, may I suggest that you at least bother to multiply the number of bits per pixel times the number of pixels times the FPS, to at least get a handle on how much data needs to be processed and understand the problem before you post.

Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (5, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#42984891)

.... I can't help thinking this [buytvhatnow.com]

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (1)

Darth Twon (2832799) | about a year ago | (#42985115)

I always wondered what happened to that technology...

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (2)

Hidyman (225308) | about a year ago | (#42985175)

.... I can't help thinking this [buytvhatnow.com]

Seeing that makes my think of The Jerk.
How long before people start suing for neck strain?

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985431)

Oooooh... it's compatible with Zune!!!

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985681)

Warning: Link in parent post automatically plays a video set to maximum volume. What the fuck is wrong with people and using videos on the web? You should ALWAYS ask or have click to play for any media file. It's common sense, it's polite and it might make visitors to the site check it out instead of instantly closing the tab.

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42988705)

Warning: Link in parent post automatically plays a video set to maximum volume. What the fuck is wrong with people and using videos on the web? You should ALWAYS ask or have click to play for any media file. It's common sense, it's polite and it might make visitors to the site check it out instead of instantly closing the tab.

1. You had to click the link.
2. You're the one using a piece of shit browser that just auto-played it. Mine didn't.

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (1)

grumbel (592662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988007)

Yep. The fun part is that this isn't even much a joke, the Oculus Rift is essentially that thing, just in a nicer box. There where even iPhone add ons that did stereo and head tracking. Kind of funny how some cheap crap from the shopping channel and the future of virtual reality are just inches apart.

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42988061)

Wrong. Oculus Right does a number of things that others don't.

1) It has dual, high resolution displays. Some of the more expensive consumer HMDs have dual displays also, but none of them have the resolution.
2) It has a wide, 110 degree FOV. No other consumer HMD has that. They all have a paltry 35-45 degree FOV, which is why they still look like a tiny screen and not a world that you are immersed in.
3) It has smooth head tracking. No other consumer HMD has that, at all.
4) It is inexpensive. The developer units you can buy now are only $300. The consumer models will be the same or less and have yet higher resolution screens.

I bet anything that TV hat shit is exactly the same quality as the old Victormaxx Stuntmaster "virtual reality" headset. I picked one of those up sometime in the early 90s because it was only $20 or so at a computer show (they were really trying to unload those steaming piles). I didn't expect much from it, but it was even worse than my already low expectations. When wearing it (no easy feat due to the size and weight), it looked exactly as it sounded, a tiny, blocky image, poorly magnified by a cheap, plastic Fresnel lens. It made the already low resolution Super Famicom and Mega Drive games look even blockier and when I finally cut the cables to jury-rig some standard RCA connectors on to it, TV and video tapes faired no better.

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (1)

grumbel (592662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988443)

1) Oculus has a single 1280x800 display, not two
2) The FOV is just a matter what lenses you stick over the display
3) iPhones have tracking too [youtube.com]
4) A little plastic thing you put on your iPhone is cheap as well (iPhone not so much)

No, I am not claiming that a crappy iPhone add on is as good as the Rift, Rift obviously had put a bunch more thought put into it. I am just remarking how closely related that cheap gimmick is to the Rift. It's very similar technology, the Rift just has a lot more polish and fine tuning done to it.

Re:Whenever anyone mentions cheap VR headsets.... (1)

grumbel (592662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988455)

Turns out that Palmer himself actually was involved in one of those iPhone add ons [mtbs3d.com] .

The obvious solution! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42984999)

Surely any dedicated gamer would see the value in simply injecting a thickening agent into the endolymph of the Vestibular system. With careful dose control, that should induce a matching lag in the perception of motion, thus providing a highly realistic experience!

*Ability to walk and/or perform normal ocular saccades not guaranteed, please refrain from the use of industrial silicones in medical applications.

Re:The obvious solution! (1)

drkim (1559875) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987667)

Surely any dedicated gamer would see the value in simply injecting a thickening agent into the endolymph of the Vestibular system. With careful dose control, that should induce a matching lag in the perception of motion, thus providing a highly realistic experience!

*Ability to walk and/or perform normal ocular saccades not guaranteed, please refrain from the use of industrial silicones in medical applications.

You can do this magnetically.

Re:The obvious solution! (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42990269)

Better to focus on the motion programming ie things like what level of motion is ignored, how much can you reduce resolution during motion (less processing less lag), adding in catch up and, simply skipping areas during rapid motion. This tends to match reality, where you head is tending to catch up to your eyes point of focus and you only really focus in on detail once you head motion has mostly stopped.

Like 3D movies (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | about a year ago | (#42985025)

There has been 3D movies for decades, (50s or 60s... to lazy to check) but just recently the technology allow it to became mainstream.

Maybe it's time for a VR grand comeback.

(... I'm still waiting for my holosuite...)

Re:Like 3D movies (1)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | about a year ago | (#42985099)

Honestly this is more perceptive than you might think. IMO full VR doesn't make much sense for games, but consider how much real world difference there is between a head tracking system combined traditional 3D glasses, and maybe a second or third screen. Simpler to implement, more flexible in terms of what the system can do and the only real loss is the retention of peripheral vision and the head tracking not having 1:1 ratio of head to camera movement (and lets face it, in a gaming environment 1:1 is going to cause more problems than it solves).

Re:Like 3D movies (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987167)

There has been 3D movies for decades, (50s or 60s... to lazy to check) but just recently the technology allow it to became mainstream.

Fort Ti and House of Wax were both in 1953.

Re:Like 3D movies (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987663)

Actually according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] the first red/green anaglyph film was shown in 1922 for an audience in NYC. man I knew that shit was old but not THAT damned old.

And as much as I hate to admit it, but being in computer retail as long as i have I know this will end up being the case, know what you need to get VR the big thing again? Porn, that's what. people wanted burners "To back up my pictures" (bullshit, porn) and they got big hard drive "To store my pictures" (A TB of pictures? bullshit its for porn) and if they come out with VR porn I have no damned doubt I'll be selling VR units to people who'll say "So I can see my pictures in virtual reality" (Bullshit, I've seen your family and they don't even look good in 2D, its for porn).

If there is one thing I've learned its not only the Internet that was made for porn, everything from VCRs to big fat HDDs are all needed for porn. Porn, its what drives technology today for a better smuttier tomorrow.

Bewbs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985073)

Tig ole bitties!

Good VR exists, but it's rare. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#42985113)

Stanford has an elaborate VR lab. [stanford.edu] The system is 120FPS, and the lag is low, but I'm not sure how low. There's full motion tracking of the subject in a 20 foot by 20 foot space. They have public tours every Friday. Sign up and try high-end VR.

This isn't a graphics lab. It's a psychology lab. Some of the results are scary. [stanford.edu] They've had kids go through a VR experience of swimming with sharks. A few weeks later, the kids are asked about it, and a sizable fraction of them believe they really did it, adding details that were not in the sim like what they ate while visiting the sharks.

They're always running psychology experiments, and looking for volunteers. Pays $15/hr.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985785)

Scary? If people weren't adept at conflating reality and fantasy then neither science fiction nor Slashdot would exist.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#42985873)

> This isn't a graphics lab. It's a psychology lab. Some of the results are scary.
> They've had kids go through a VR experience of swimming with sharks. A few
> weeks later, the kids are asked about it, and a sizable fraction of them believe they
> really did it, adding details that were not in the sim like what they ate while visiting
> the sharks.

That's entirely normal. A bunch of people who all saw the same thing at the same time from the same location a few weeks later, such as a car accident, and it's very common for people to swear blind that what they're reported as happening actually happened, even though they're at odds over such details as the colour, speed and direction of the car, the colour/sex/race of the person driving it, etc.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42986149)

This is very true. But brings up the terrifying realization that witnesses aren't very reliable, and how many people were convicted and even put to death on witness testimony?

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986271)

Sledge Hammer: No, I prefer to get my information from more reliable sources, like rumor and small children.

In general, though, the unsubstantiated recollections of small children wouldn't be enough to put somebody to death.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42989047)

Sledge Hammer: No, I prefer to get my information from more reliable sources, like rumor and small children.

Oh. I thought it was: "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42988241)

This is very true. But brings up the terrifying realization that witnesses aren't very reliable, and how many people were convicted and even put to death on witness testimony?

If you haven't already, watch this - very scary indeed
http://www.ted.com/talks/scott_fraser_the_problem_with_eyewitness_testimony.html

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42989145)

Nothing terrifying about that, we've known that for decades, just like we've known about the uselessness of incarceration.

The only terrifying part is that the government still uses both against all evidence that they don't work.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (1)

mikael (484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988823)

Our high-school English/Drama teachers did an exercise like that - they set up a classroom skit where they got into an argument or something, and started messing about with hitting each other with fake glass bottles. When it came to the class being given the exercise of writing down an eyewitness account, every person saw a different order of events, even though it was quite obvious the order from a recorded video.

Re:Good VR exists, but it's rare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42988229)

It's not just kids who have crap memory. Adults too.

I've encountered so many adults who remember stuff incorrectly it's not funny if it ever is for something serious. Like the kids you mention they even make things up.

Because of that I distrust eyewitnesses. Unless more than 3 of them _independently_ (no discussion, no prompting - just writing down what happened once in whatever order they prefer - not imposed by outside) recall the same account of something.

I wouldn't want anyone to go to jail just based on one eyewitness. There must be other evidence to link the suspect to the crime. No "this is the guy who mugged me", but fine if "this is the guy who mugged me" and "cops found my stolen stuff in his apartment".

Oculus Rift (4, Informative)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | about a year ago | (#42985153)

How can they not talk about Carmack's chosen one? This seems to be the best hope for affordable VR for the masses.
http://www.oculusvr.com/ [oculusvr.com]

Re:Oculus Rift (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985255)

Carmack gives them a shoutout at the very bottom of the article. He doesn't mention them within the article itself because he's not in the hardware business, he's in the software business, and he's talking about techniques that can be used on the software side to improve the experience.

Re:Oculus Rift (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42995545)

I don't believe for a second that Oculus will take hold. Its the same shitty stereoscopic 3D with head tracking, BIG FUCKING DEAL.

Its neat until you use it for more than 20 minutes, then you get a headache and motion sickness...

Where have I seen this before? (2, Informative)

Pseudonym (62607) | about a year ago | (#42985165)

Oh, yeah. Michael Abrash did this two months ago. [valvesoftware.com]

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986727)

It's normal for many people to write on the same topic. Carmack's article is very well written and discusses very different technical approaches to latency than the article you linked. Of the two, I found Carmack's article more useful because it covered a lot more ground, and focussed more on the high level issues than on the implementation details.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992119)

I actually found Abrash's article more useful because it looked at the problem from end to end, from head tracking sensors to display technology. Carmack mostly talked about everything between the game engine and the GPU.

But yeah, I was actually making a point about Slashdot's relationship with Carmack.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43001691)

You didn't make that point before about Slashdot's relationship with Abrash? Come on.

The fact is the two people said different things on the same subject. If only Slashdot restricted itself to bimonthly refreshes on every topic.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42987119)

No he didn't. He talks about the problem, but doesn't seem to offer a solution, only where the boundaries are. Carmack's solution of a smart-warping display that runs faster than the video feed is the answer to Abrash's question.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

grantek (979387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987147)

Well it's funny, there was a horde of people suggesting more basic versions of John's warping techniques in the comments section to Michael's blog post. They were all dismissed because he felt the silhouetting John talked about was too much of a deal-breaker for realism. John's experiments seem to suggest otherwise, so it'll be interesting to see two competitive headsets using different sets of tricks to try to fool peoples' sense of realism.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987325)

Matthew Regan and Ronald Pose did this in 1994 [google.com] .

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

Hast (24833) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992489)

Considering that the two were on stage together at QuakeCon talking about this issues I don't think it's all that strange. ;-)

The Virtual Insanity session (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gaqQdyfAz8) is well worth watching if you are interested in these things. As is Carmacks keynote from QuakeCon 2012.

Can we accomplish this without lookin ridiculous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985189)

I remember the commercials for Disney's Epcot Innoventions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtVLev7YlL0 [youtube.com]

Those VR helmets were HEAVY as a little kid and boy did I look like a dork. Let's hope these modern VR headsets look more stylish and very light...

Poor site for mobiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985199)

Fixed floating div down left takes up silly number of pixels. Why make it fixed to the screen rather than scroll with the page?

Re:Poor site for mobiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985895)

Because the web is no longer about conveying information with markup, it is about creating pixel-perfect environments to justify your salary.

The hardware was ready to support it long ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985413)

I have an eMagin OLED head mounted display with motion tracking that was fantastic with the games of the time. The problem was that it depended on support from Nvidia, which they dropped with the very next driver release to force people to use displays from their new partner, screwing everyone who paid ~$1,000 for the HMD.

I don't see spending a lot on an HMD ever again if it means I have to trust Nvidia to not screw me again.

http://bit.ly/159NsYx (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42985507)

http://bit.ly/159NsYx

Something I still remember (3, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year ago | (#42985829)

I remember when everyone suddenly got excited about virtual reality in the early 1990s. Of course, back then it was more the concept and the possibilities that triggered peoples' imaginations- actual VR systems and games did exist at that time, but were never really widespread, probably due to the limitations and cost of the then-current technology and the fact it was essentially a novelty.

One commentator, however, said something that has stuck with me ever since. I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of...

"Eventually the current fad for Virtual Reality will pass, and everyone will forget about it. Then one day you'll look around you and realise that it's everywhere."


(*) If you remember it too, then yes- it really *was* [abime.net] that long ago [amigahistory.co.uk] :-O

Re:Something I still remember (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42986459)

Woo REND386!

Re:Something I still remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42987753)

Yes, I remember going to a rave in San Francisco in the early 90s. There was a private invite expo on a sub-level beneath the rave where they were demoing a VR system. Timothy Leary was there, it was a pretty surreal experience.

Re:Something I still remember (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988257)

As a tech advance I actually don't care much about Virtual Reality. The VR stuff would be nice for some games and maybe porn, but I doubt it'll be everywhere any time soon. Augmented reality would be nice (but latency for this won't be as big a problem). What I'd want is human augmentation ( http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3478821&cid=42956909 [slashdot.org] ).

It'll be nice if you could have a minimap in your vision that updates with locations of stuff of interest, cool HUD sort info, and other fancy tech (as mentioned in my post). But who would want their vision completely replaced with a virtual reality for every day stuff, so will it ever be everywhere?

Re:Something I still remember (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42989059)

Eventually, in all aspects of the VR discussion, it all boils down to pr0n. We all want ___________* naked, moving, responding to us, in immersive 3D, in our bedroom. Admit it. This is what "the possibilities are endless" means.

* mileage may vary.

Carmack wants to strap a tablet to your head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42986043)

VR just doesn't work. It has been tried and tried and tried and tried. The problems are intractable. Put a non-balanced significant weight on the head, and people will suffer excruciating neck pain and head-aches UNLESS they have reason to keep their head still and in one position. Balance the weight of the VR screen with counter-balances around the head, and you produce a hideous unwieldy 'helmet' that will still cause neck-pain when the head is 'snapped'.

Even bulky headphones have this issue, and they have the convenience of 'input sensors' on the sides of the head. You are ONLY going to want to wear heavy headphones if you intend to have limited fast head movements.

Since most VR systems need to be 'goggle-like', you have the issue of 'claustrophobia' of the eyes, and a local atmospheric environment around the eyes that rapidly becomes VERY uncomfortable.

These are the mechanical problems, and they are horrible for the gamer. It is no coincidence that military flight simulators do NOT use VR goggles, even though they have the funds to do so.

However, even if the gamer is willing to sacrifice his body, and suffer through the physical pain and discomfort, there is a far bigger issue- latency. VR systems need to emulate the latency we experience in the real world, and this is impossible. The displays are far too slow and unresponsive. The games have vastly worse latency today than at the birth of 3D acceleration via 3DFX, because they need to decouple the input loop from the render system. Even id's games were dropped from professional gamer contests (replaced by 'Painkiller') because Carmack was a pioneer of 'online' FPS games, where you are lucky if you get 10 poorly synced inputs a second across a network. Online requires the game 'predicts' most of the input, and samples actual input at a far slower rate than the animation is depicted onscreen.

Only a complete MORON will now say "code the games differently for VR". Who is going to pay for that? No AAA publisher would do something so stupid. You see, modern games now render using a high-latency pipeline, with some work for future frames being calculated before the current frame is even done. It is ESSENTIAL that the input loop is low frequency compared to the render system.

Carmack works on the basis that noddy games can be knocked together that sample input at the screen refresh rate of 60Hz or whatever. This is true, but who wants VR for noddy trash? Even these improved latencies will make any VR system feel 'laggy' when you make rapid head movements. Carmack's VR proposal is a stupid toy proposed by a bored and very irrelevant industry figure. It has the same lasting value as his rubbish games for phones- high gimmicks that are forgotten a month later. Or his dreadful 'mega-texture' idea that boosts the expense and complexity of producing graphics by more than a factor of ten, without producing any noticeable quality boosts over normal asset streaming techniques and advanced texture tessellation.

Re:Carmack wants to strap a tablet to your head (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986645)

Balance the weight of the VR screen with counter-balances around the head, and you produce a hideous unwieldy 'helmet' that will still cause neck-pain when the head is 'snapped'.

throughout time military helmets have had a certain amount of weight to them.

It is no coincidence that military flight simulators do NOT use VR goggles, even though they have the funds to do so.

Such systems are about training a pilot to use a real jet. a real jet has an large amount of very small controls.
here's an enthusiast simulator startup video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBFb45nPSNs [youtube.com]
in a military simulator you can physically interact with all of those switches. so I would guess the military doesn't use VR goggles yet because of the latency and the difficulty of tracking exactly where the pilot's hands are.

You see, modern games now render using a high-latency pipeline, with some work for future frames being calculated before the current frame is even done. It is ESSENTIAL that the input loop is low frequency compared to the render system.

I think that's the other way around. at least with race-car games it's the other way around. in those you do several input and physics frames, and render every fourth frame or so. or they can be asynchronous, with the render thread drawing the latest complete physics frame.

Re:Carmack wants to strap a tablet to your head (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987137)

I don't think you read the article. He's talking about ways to design new displays that can reduce the head-movement -> display latency to 3ms or so, without going through the GPU.

Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42986427)

Latency is only an issue if you plan on rendering from the user's perspective as the head is moved. If the entire field of vision is calibrated per user i.e the highest the person can tilt their head up, down, left and right; then all that needs to be done is for the entire environment to be constantly rendered by the software and the image being seen by the user will change by head tracking only. This will make the delay almost undetectable. You are welcome John Carmack.

Re:Latency (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986761)

Funnily enough, that's exactly one of the methods the article discusses, except there are some details you hav glossed over that he fills in.

It was not just hardware (2, Informative)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986561)

Numerous studies showed that extended use of VR could cause severe problems, namely permanent lazy eye (loss of depth perception). I believe it was Nintendo that dropped a VR product because of their own studies (I'm too tired to go look for the data at the moment). Government studies also found this to be true, so working in VR in Government jobs is restricted (or was when I was there) to 8 hours per week.

More studies need to be done to determine safe levels, and most importantly people should be made aware of the potential risks to health. Currently there are no warnings that I'm aware of and most people have no knowledge of the studies.

Re:It was not just hardware (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987183)

Nintendo's product was the Virtual Boy [wikipedia.org] . It flopped in the market and they discontinued it. I never heard anything about them pulling it due to health studies; people just had general eye discomfort from the red flickery display and didn't like it. It didn't get to any sort of point where "real" injury stemmed from it.

Also note that the Virtual Boy sat fixed, it was not head-mounted so there was no motion tracking and no weird vertigo effects. Spending time where you're actually moving/looking around a simulated, slightly lagged world probably has a lot more of those sorts of problems than a fixed display.

Re:It was not just hardware (1)

sabernet (751826) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987517)

The Nintendo Virtual Boy failed due to being an undesirable product to most of the population(not me, I loved the thing....but I do think it was a bad idea and definitely way to pricey when it came out). It had nothing to do with safety concerns.

Having said that, there was a study way back which claimed stereoscopic displays would negatively impact the development of children less than 6 years old. There was also the concern of staring at a dark+red display too long since the display(unlike the Occulous) didn't really focus to infinity(though it did have some adjustable optics). So the VB had a health warning about letting six year old children play. It also paused automatically every 10 mins of play time to allow the player to lift their head and focus.

This didn't help sales. But it wasn't a health decision so much as a public paranoia issue that had just a minimal impact on what was otherwise an unfeasible product anyways.

The study about affecting the very young have since been refuted, however, Nintendo still allows parents who fear it to lock out the 3D effect on the 3DS via parental locks. I have no idea if 3D TVs these days extend the same courtesy.

Re:It was not just hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42987871)

"I'm too tired to look for the data"

Not too tired to spread your bullshit disinformation though?

Google Failure (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43026233)

It's not like Google magically broke you jackass. Here [avsforum.com] is one page, and here [sciencedaily.com] is another. When reading that second one, remember what is discussed in the first. Also follow the links in the first article. The Government studies are harder to find, but do exist.

Re:It was not just hardware (1)

Hast (24833) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992481)

I looked into this claim when the Oculus Rift was first presented (and the same references were made). BTW the experiments were funded by Sega as they were also looking into making a VR headset.

The only claims I could find are made by one guy. (Who I can't remember the name of right now, but he was involved in the Sega VR project.) And it seems like this is the only person to have said that there are medical problems with using VR. (IIRC he was also involved in the more recent scare that 3D TVs could hurt your eyes.)

The research results done for Sega VR were never published, they only said that it wouldn't be a good idea. (Not specifying if this was for medical reasons or that the VR experience just wasn't good.)

Palmer Luckey (the guy behind the Oculus Rift) has a sizeable collection of VR stuff already. And has apparently worked with some military VR stuff, so I'm pretty sure he knows what they are doing.

Re:It was not just hardware (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43026343)

I worked in the DOD on VR projects which is why I know of the studies showing potential harm from viewing. One may argue that at the time, we used 48hz per eye and now we can get better so it may not have the same impact. The studies did show a chance of it happening increasing based on amount of use.

What is easily provable is that immersion can cause severe headaches,nausea, disorientation, and in rare cases panic attacks. This is why 3D movies use very little depth in their visuals, and more single eye items. Snow flakes for one example may be right eye only while the rest of the scene is left and right with no depth change. Military people especially tend to work even under the distress caused by immersion. How many things can you think of that cause severe pain and don't cause problems?

VR is just not that fun (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986597)

Its like the Wii, its awesome for a little bit, but at some point your just going to want to sit down and play a game like normal. Thats kind of like the way VR is, its awesome ... then it becomes more and more of an inconvenience, then one day you clean off your desk cause the damn gear, is in your way.

Re:VR is just not that fun (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987205)

I think this will only be true until they get the visuals and interaction to the point where it feels like you're in an expansive environment. I remember that Mario 64 was the watershed game for me; the first one where I actually felt like I was freely exploring around an actual place, not just looking at pretty effects on the screen as most 3d (on a 2d display) games were up to that point.

Right now, they all feel like you're operating a camera as part of the "experience". Once that is transparent, things should open up. Carmack's got a really good idea here, and that has direct impact on that barrier to immersion.

Re:VR is just not that fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42995567)

What if I want to play doom sitting down, instead of running, jumping, and diving in place?

Nintendo seems to have already solved this (1)

guises (2423402) | about a year and a half ago | (#42986913)

If you've played Nintendo Land on the Wii U you've seen this problem basically solved: you look around by moving the Wii Pad as though it were a window, and there's no latency problems at all (unlike with the Wii, thankfully). Just shrink down the display and make it head-mountable.

Re:Nintendo seems to have already solved this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42987103)

mod up

I was thinking the same thing, and we'll see a 3rd party Wii U remote headmount kit.

Combine with UDRTRT (1)

xushi (740195) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987481)

I wonder if they can combine it with the unlimited detail rendering technology developed in OZ.. That would be kick-ass

Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering Technology Preview 2011 [HD]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00gAbgBu8R4 [youtube.com]

Wake me up when... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year and a half ago | (#42987707)

we can crash someones brain with a QR code.

Carmack? (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a year and a half ago | (#42988655)

After playing RAGE, I'm pretty sure whatever Carmack is doing at the moment, it's about 10 years out of date.

Re:Carmack? (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about a year and a half ago | (#42996037)

IMHO, Megatexture style engines are the future. The reason is that we our eyes resolution is limited, there is a point where adding more detail is useless and we are close to this point right now. On the other hand, storage capacity and bandwidth continues to increase, making repeating textures less interesting.
Also, RAGE is designed to run 60 fps on XBOX360 and PS3, as a result, a lot of compromises were made. It probably explains the mostly static environment.

I was also a bit disappointed by RAGE but I don't understand how one can say it is 10 years out of date when it uses something that has never been done before in a commercial game engine.

A bright future for this kid Carmack (1)

Zhe Mappel (607548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021663)

Seriously, though: as a longtime admirer, I have to say his genius would be better used in gaming if he rid himself of the albatross known as id.

Imagine what he could do in any number of R&D areas if he didn't have to ship games bogged down by boring narratives, bland level design and twenty-year old ideas of corridor-based run-and-gun.

I wish he'd turn his attention to improving AI and developing emergent gaming. The next frontier awaits, but our Einstein is bent on rendering the same old mousetrap in ever higher fidelity.

Re:A bright future for this kid Carmack (1)

Punko (784684) | about a year and a half ago | (#43027257)

And some folks would have been happy if Einstein would have made a better contribution to humanity if he'd turned his genius to violin playing.

Caramack is very interested in the way things look - visual fidelity of computer generated images. While working on AI is a somewhat related field, it may not simply interest the guy. His talent has been to find ways of producing impressive visuals with low resource costs, this IS the kind of guy we want working on VR (and AR for that matter), given the current state of the art. It may be that a portion of his skill set may also be applicable to AI, but I doubt it is significant enough to put him at the forefront of a very active front.

It is trivial to produce photographic quality virtual worlds, it is not trivial to produce them in real time, with consumer grade equipment. This is where John is focused. It is NOT trivial to produce advanced AI, let alone in real time with consumer grade equipment. Until AI with super computers is sufficiently advanced (i.e. made non-trivial), John's gifts for making the fantastic appear on lower power tech isn't useful.
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