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The Science Behind the InfinitEye's Panoramic Virtual Reality Headset

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.

Displays 42

muterobert writes "The Oculus Rift has competition, and it's incredible. The InfinitEye has a 210 degree field of view (compared with the Oculus Rift's 90) and surrounds your peripheral vision in the game completely. Paul James from RoadToVR goes in-depth with the team behind the new device and finds out how high-FOV Virtual Reality really works. Quoting: 'At the present time, we are using 4 renders, 2 per eye. Left eye renders are centered on left eye, the first render is rotated 90 left and the second looks straight ahead, building two sides of a cube. Right eye renders are centered on its position, the first is rotated 90 degree right and the second looks straight ahead, two sides of another cube. We then process those renders in a final pass, building the distorted image.'"

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42 comments

Out of date (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45533421)

Oh come on, i thought we had got over the whole "strapping-two-screens-to-your-head-like-we-did-in-the-70s" thing

this has far more potential and could actually be mounted into glasses you could wear unlike the screen-strapping tech like Occulus and its clones which haven't progressed much since the 70s (complete with Fresnels lol)

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/11/13/1612237/demo-of-prototype-virtual-retinal-head-mounted-display [slashdot.org]

Issues... (4, Informative)

Junta (36770) | about 5 months ago | (#45533613)

First, for the apples to apples portion of the discussion, that display technology is 45 degree FoV. Given the article is about a project largely of interest because they were ambitious to 210 degrees which is much higher than the still respectable 90 degrees of Rift, bringing in a 45 degree FoV product into the discussion isn't immediately helpful. Now you *could* be suggesting that the technology could do better if they wanted, but until that's demonstrated it would be risky to assume that. The most optimistic reference material I could find about that sort of design said '100 degree FoV could be possible' based on designs that acheived 60 degree FoV' (but that's not exactly an apt comparison, since that material predates DLP which means it isn't quite talking about the avegant solution). In short, Avegant is aiming squarely at private consumption of video content rather than immersion.

Second, a significant driver for these new projects is a realization that HMD isn't a market that can drive a lot of custom, one-off design work right now. In order to get to a technology that people can actually *get* at an approachable price, they are working to leverage mass-market display technologies that are largely paid for by their use in tablet and similar form factor applications. DLP into the eye is a bit more custom and will probably not be as cheap.

Also, this discussion is solely about the display technology, but a very large part of the work that Oculus is focused on is motion tracking, which is a pretty critical component.

Finally, at least that prototype doesn't exactly look like the poster child of 'glasses you could wear', it's still pretty bulky.

I'm not saying that Avegant should pack up and go home, it could be very promising, but that's not a good reason to tell Oculus and InfiniEye that they are on a dead end path either. Avegant doesn't waste available resolution like the alternatives, but currently there is no solution that leverages the full resolution of the utilized technology while also providing an immersive FoV, but the former point might be moot if the tablet manufacturers continue their one-upmanship to the tune of 3840x2160 7" displays.

Re:Issues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45534161)

that display technology is 45 degree FoV

And that's 45 horizontal. It's a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you're looking at something like 25 vertical. Even if they had a 90 deg horizontal FOV, they'd still be substantially short of something like the Rift.

I think most people don't realize what a 45 or even 60deg 16:9 FOV would really mean for properly implemented VR. Your game camera/presentation has to be FOV matched with the degrees the screens are actually filling in front of your eyes in order for you to feel in the same physical space as the virtual environment. Would be excellent for Welding Simulator 2014, but terrible for everything else.

Re:Issues... (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 5 months ago | (#45534801)

Curved LED displays are possible. There's a few demo mockup's of watch form factor displays out there. It's still going to be tricky to build a lens system to project the image as if it is further away.

Curved display (2)

DrYak (748999) | about 5 months ago | (#45537553)

Curved display will be the future, yes. The *far* future.
As said by other in this thread, Occulus and InfinitEye project try to make the technology cheap affordable and mass produced. Thus they concentrate on the cheapest and most available hardware.
Currently, 5" to 7" *flat* displays are ubiquitous in tablets, and thus are very easy to source for Occulus and IntinitEye (and thanks to the "Retina" fad launched by apple, these screens have high resolutions too, thus looks nicely even if blown up to the full field of view, unlike the 200x200 pixel HMD of the 90s).
Currently, curved displays are still something new, sold at a premium for a few "almost-concept" models of LG and Samsung (not even Apple, yet). They are not cheaply available in big quantities. For now.
If the "curved screen" fad catches with smartphone makers, you can bet that the available quantities will go up and the price will get lower. Thus, eventually future iterations of Occulus, InifitEye and other such technologies will be able to afford such technologies and stay within the target price, while getting less bulky and better quality.

As of the lens system: Never mind. It's a software problem. Current prototype of InfinitEye and Occulus *already* have a sub-optimal lens system. But that's part of the design. Instead of engineering a complex piece of optical apparatus that can perfectly and distortion-free project an image into a rectangular field of view, they go for the cheap and affordable len (InifintEye is using even Fresnel lens), and pre-distort the image using shader before sending it to the display.
Again, it's a lower quality solution, but helps avoiding that more than 600$ are thrown in the optical components only.

Also, curved display could help reduce some of the distrotion, if they manage to become affordable in a few years.

Re:Curved display (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45538271)

As of the lens system: Never mind. It's a software problem.

If you want things to appear distant to the focus of your eye, which is a factor in how we judge how far things are away, especially at distances where parallax is less useful, you can't do that with just a normal display and software. You would need to control both the location of the source of light, and the direction of light coming out of it, needing different light to come out at different directions from each pixel in order for it to trick the focus of the eye. This issue is probably going to be ignored for a long time, as it would require complicated lenses or extremely high resolution displays that can do holography (which are starting to experimentally exist, but have extremely slow refresh rate and limited size).

Re:Curved display (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45539495)

Or just have good DOF effects in the games.

Eye focusing is for short distance *only*. (2)

DrYak (748999) | about 5 months ago | (#45548329)

The "accommodation reflex", i.e.: "how much your eye need to focus" is only used for depth perception at very short distance.

e.g.: If you read a book, are busy hacking/reparing stuff on your bench, etc. your brain notice that the object are near, not only because it needs to cross the eye a lot to focus on the short distance, but also because you eye's len need to contract a lot to accomodate (well at least for those who are of a still yound enough age to be able to do it. Older geeks with presbyopia [= rigid un-compressible eye's len due to old age] just take their reading glasses to compensate their for the same effect).
That's why also, people working on micro-mechanics (clock makers, for exemple) wear special glasses and similar eyepiece that blow up the proportion on what they are working. Otherwise their eyes would have to focus on a way-too-short distance (due to the small scale of their work) and either tire their eyes (eyes haven't evolved very well for looking a sub-milimeter object a few cm eye from the eyes) or not possible at all (such hyper focusing is only possible for children and youngs).

2nd e.g.: That's why "The Magic Eye" type of stereograms feels weird (and some people aren't able to see them) - the parallax of the random-dots evokes distance, but your eyes are still focused at reading distance, and the brain feels that discrepancy a little bit weird. (You need to take the habbit to cross your eyes and focus their lens at 2 different distance). (Which is something that near-/far-sighted people are used to anyway).

The brain doesn't give a fuck about the eye's len focus for anything farther than reading distance. (The len doesn't focus noticeably much, anyway)
Whether the eye len focus on the personne a few meter away, or on the mountain in the distance, it's all the same for the brain. Only the parallax matters (for the person your eye are still crossed toward a few meters, whereas for the mountain the eyes are almost-parallel).

Virtual reality is all about immersing *inside an environment*, not about having sit down and read a book (that's imagination, it's a different form of escapism ;-) ).
Nearly everything happens at a distance (virtually).
Thus the simplest thing is to build the optical part of the display in such way that that this image is focused at infinity (like anything long distance in the real life) and the only 3D effect comes from the parallax (the differences between the screens for each eyes).
It will be completely unnoticeable for 99% of the actions hapening. It will only get noticed on object at very short distance (the occasional door-switch, picked-up document or machine interface). And even then it won't feel any weirder than using reading glasses.

The only *really* weird effect, as mentioned by the AC next to me is the Depth-of-Field.
Under badly lit and dark environment, they eye open the pupil and that reduces the depth of the field (i.e.: the range between the shortest and the farthest point on which the eye is focused. Any object nearer or farther than this range appears blurry. You can't look an object something and still see clearly another one).
As the len of a virtual head-set is perfectly focused(*) on the screen, that means that the whole image is always perfectly sharp, as if it was in a brightly lit day.

As mentionned by the AC, some DOF blurring-effect can slightly make this more realistic.

(*): well for classical old-school expensive almost-custom-made HMDs, the complex optical system is perfectly focused on the screen.
For modern cheap off-the-shelf HMDs, there a plain simple len (of fresnel in TFA) more-or-less focused on the screen. The image is sharp, specially in the center, but the whole image is completely distorted in a "cushion" way. But that's easy to compensate in software by pre-distorting the image in the opposite way(**) and at least, this way the hardware doen't cost 1000$ only for the optical part itself.
But in both cases, the end-effect is the same: you look into the eye-piece and see a sharp picture hanging at infinity.

(**): That's what I'm arguing about curved display: they'll bring a bit less distortions.

Re:Issues... (1)

Black LED (1957016) | about 5 months ago | (#45539461)

I thought Oculus Rift was supposed to provide a 110 degree field of view, which is what their web site says. Are they changing that for the consumer model?

Re:Issues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545617)

Given how much the screen size, lens type, and housing have an effect on the FOV, and considering we presently have no information about those elements on the consumer unit, we really don't know. The safe assumption though is it will be roughly in the same range as the devkit - anything substantially less would be a disappointment, and anything substantially more is pretty much impossible with their single screen implementation.

Re:Out of date (1)

famebait (450028) | about 5 months ago | (#45538003)

this has far more potential

If immersive efefct i what you'tre going for, the potential for this technique is in fact severly limited.
First let's strip away some marketing mumbo jumbo:

The "projecting directly onto the retina" pitch is bull.
Unless you want to venture into eye surgery, you can't bypass the optics of the cornea etc ("lazers" or no "lazers"), so any light looking like it comes from a particular direction has to actually arrive from roughly that direction. It follows that and some part of the chain has to physically cover at least as much of the field of view as it looks like to the viewer. If you're close enough to the cornea that doesn't have to be very big, but unless you're willing to fix your gaze in a single direction and shave your eyelashes, there are practical limits to how far this goes.

The "no screen" pitch is also bull:
The DLP-chip is a screen just fine, just a really small, really bright, reflective one. Optics can make it look bigger, but this approach doesn't really scale to anything beyond a binocular-like FOV as long as the screen/chip remains stationary.

Either you need a bigger screen, or you need the small screen to follow your pupil around as your eyes move (really fast).
The latter is likely to take longer to become practical than the surgical option, so for the next few decades, it's going to be external screens of some sort for most of us.

That said, doubly curved displays, more advanced optics and futher miniaturisation can greatly improve FOV, size and quality compared to the cluncky rigs we see todaty, but don't expect anything beyond "really clunky ski goggles", even in the long term.

Re:Out of date (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45539169)

Did you actually look at the pics in TFA from that story? The "retinal display" headset managed to be bulkier and even uglier than Oculus.

Re:Out of date (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45539445)

The HMD in the story you linked to doesn't look all that much smaller than Oculus Rift. It also doesn't look like it provides a very high FOV.

Vested interested? Avegant CEO Edward Tang, is that you?

Latency? (3, Insightful)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#45533503)

I RTFA, but didn't see a latency (from sensor to screen redraw) spec. Isn't that supposed to be a pretty important criteria for these devices?

Re:Latency? (2)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45533797)

Yes, among other things. They use 2 renders per screen, so you should be expecting about 16ms more latency than oculus. Also they have double the vertical pixels compared to oculus, so you might expect more latency compared to the oculus screen from computations too. Latency comes down to several factors, rendering latency, screen latency and everything in between. pixel to pixel latency is very much dependant on the screen type. Oculus has said theyre looking into OLED screens that have minimal latency (few ms) compared to lcd screens that have about 16ms or so.

Re: Latency? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#45533829)

Specifically, I'm more concerned with the lag between accel/gyro positional reading and screen update. If this lag gets too high, you get a tearing effect which can seriously degrade the overall VR experience.

Re: Latency? (2)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45534615)

Both oculus and this one seem to use ~1000hz tracking. so its not an issue, tearing comes from display refresh and it's not about the tracking. In a video i saw some guys at occulus break down the latency and it was something like 2ms for usb, 16ms for game engine/rendering, ~16ms for screen refresh@60fps/hz and 16ms for pixel switching.

The promise of the 90s here at last? (1)

XMark3 (2979399) | about 5 months ago | (#45533517)

I remember the first VR fad in the 90s... it seemed like such a neat idea. However, the graphics were horrible, frame rates sucked, head tracking was laggy, headsets were bulky, screens were blurry, FOV was too small, and people were still trying to figure out 3D movement control schemes. I've felt that ever since around 2004 we've been ready to give VR another shot, now that we've fixed or have the technology to fix every single one of those problems. And it seems like a lot of different companies are going to be going head-to-head in an attempt to be the ones that bring VR back. Obviously Oculus Rift has the biggest head-start, but there's some promise in the other ones too. The Infiniteye seems to have the FOV advantage. The CastAR seems like it could be an awesome thing of its own (although it's meant more for AR than VR, so it's not in direct competition). I know Sony has a head-mounted display and Valve are planning to bring one out as well. In fact, I think this is what the true next generation of video games is going to be known for, rather than the consoles (though they will likely add support Oculus Rift or make their own headsets if VR turns out to be a thing) If they can get the head-tracking and motion-tracking down without any noticeable lag, then the only real problem remaining is the issue of focus depth for stereo 3D. And that's something that basically CAN'T be resolved without actual real-time holographic technology, which is still probably a few decades away.

Re:The promise of the 90s here at last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45533565)

You mean the 80s, right? By the 90s you were a decade behind the times.

Re: The promise of the 90s here at last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45534607)

I keep wondering whether there could be eye tracking or maybe dilation tracking that could solve the focusing on specific object issue. I've found it not to be a huge hindrance to the overall vr experience but it would definitely add another layer of immersion.

Re:The promise of the 90s here at last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45539565)

Speak for yourself. In the 90s, I had a Glasstron set. It looked great, was lightweight and compact. Unreal looked awesome.

Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45533525)

I was going to ask how they got anything interesting to output renders from four different angles, but instead I just RTFA. It turns out they don't get anything interesting to output four views. Their demos are all written for their own custom engine. That's fine, and it looks cool, but my dream of a home-made CAVE is no closer to reality.

Bad article (1, Insightful)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45533707)

So many things wrong. TFA is comparing horizontal and vertical FOVs. Both sets have about 90 degree vertical FOV. Oculus rift has about 110 FOV and human is maxed out aroud 180. Also peripheral vision is not very sharp. Oculus is really not having too much problems with the FOV anyway. The main visual candy problem seems to be the DPI among few other things. This item does not even improve on the real issues of oculus, like motion sickness, positional tracking and others. TFA seems to be an advertisement, nothing more.

Re: Bad article (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#45533795)

Fully agreed. I'll be happy to trade off FOV and some PPI if it means we can keep screen refresh rate up, sensor latency down, and resulting rotational error low. Bonus if these things can be done on battery power, and not require being connected to a wall outlet all the time.

Re: Bad article (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about 5 months ago | (#45533877)

Batteries wouldn't overcome the need to have a connection to your video card. I read somewhere that Oculus think it will be 5 years before that is overcome.

Re: Bad article (1)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45534673)

We don't need to be connected to a pc with beefy enough mobile processors. todays high end mobile processors are quite beefy, still not quite beefy enough. but not that far.

Re: Bad article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45535005)

They're slower than low-end P4s. "Beefy"? LOL.

Re: Bad article (1)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45535055)

yes. for the tdp in question. you are aware you're comparing a ~100w processor to a 4w soc? Also graphics is where the power is needed and in this case it's needed in stereo. so just adding a second gpu to the soc would do a lot.

You also seem to forget that cpu power has not been a real issue in desktops for quite a while.

Re: Bad article (1)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45535085)

Also to further press the point we did have 3d games in 386 era too. thats quite a few generations before p4. it's more about optimisation and less about stupid remarks about what you could do with a p4. Not forgetting that the point was "they will be there few years from now"

Re: Bad article (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 5 months ago | (#45542429)

Why couldn't the video be wirelessly sent to the screen. The WiiU has a screen that gets it's picture wirelessly sent to it by the system. It runs off of battery and the WiiU console has to be able to drive two separate video outputs at once, one for the TV and all the players using the Wiimotes, and a separate video signal sent to whoever is using the game pad. It doesn't seem too far off from a head mounted display. Just send both pictures to the HMD.

Re: Bad article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45544971)

WiiU's game pad screen is low resolution. It also operates at 30fps, which is far too low compared to a wired's throughput. When nintendo noticed gamers wanted two screens (you would need this for the 3d), they started work on planning to do a two screen mode, which will work by operating each screen at 15fps.

Re: Bad article (1)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45550689)

It could, but the latency would be way too much on current systems. 60fps@1080p is a minimum. and total latency is around 45-50ms right now (from movement to photon) and it needs to get lower. being wireless would add to that latency too.

Re: Bad article (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 5 months ago | (#45535647)

Batteries wouldn't overcome the need to have a connection to your video card...

Unless your video is coming out of a wearable.

A backpack with wearable computer, batteries, and a wireless link for net gaming. Wires out of the backpack to your mic, HMD, controller and headphones.

If you're using a desktop, but you're on a Virtuix Omni, the problem is not so much the length of your cables, as much as them getting twisted around.

Re: Bad article (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 5 months ago | (#45542479)

Or wirelessly sent to the wearable display. The WiiU gamepad gets it's picture sent wirelessly from the console and it runs on battery for a few hours before you need to plug it in.

Re: Bad article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45557033)

Wireless HDMI.

Re: Bad article (1)

Insomnium (1415023) | about 5 months ago | (#45534645)

Agreed, some time in the not too distant future this concept could be a portable console. beefy enough battery and future mobile chips will be able to run a decent game in 1080p in stereo. couple of years and it will be so, if oculus (or someone else) manages to break trough in the pc market.

Single FOV number no longer adequate (2)

CityZen (464761) | about 5 months ago | (#45535043)

With these somewhat asymmetric FOVs, a single number doesn't provide enough information to understand what you're getting.
What's needed now is the "inside angle" and the "outside angle", where:
- inside angle = how much either eye can see toward the other eye
- outside angle = how much either eye can see away from the other eye
(in either case, measure the angle from "straight ahead" over to the cut-off point where you can no longer see anything)
In a symmetric system, both of these numbers are the same (or pretty close, anyway); you'd just add the two to get regular FOV.
You don't want the inside angle too small, or else you'll feel like you've got a huge nose (or your hand between your eyes).
Making the inside angle large is complicated by the fact that the displays will run into each other.
Making the outside angle large is easy by comparison.

Same old story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45539761)

Usually its memory tech where we get these breathless reports about a startup with a revolutionary new design that is light years better than the competition in one particular area. The problem is that they inevitably introduce unacceptable trade-offs in other areas, and are made by companies who are nowhere near actually shipping anything.

What's encouraging about Oculus is that they are trying to address everything about a good VR experience: FOV, resolution, latency, software, headset bulk, cost, etc., without letting any one concern dominate the others. That's the difference between an impressive tech demo and a viable product. Maybe InfinitEye will surprise us, but they don't look like they have much beyond a bulky prototype at the moment, and I doubt they have the sufficient depth in their team to ever productise it. More likely they'll be acquired by a bigger company somewhere along the way.

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