VR holds the promise of providing transportive experiences that believably put you in another place. While the technology has been in development for decades, the current state-of-the-art hints at a major leap forward in the near future. A press release from Visual Camp, a company working on eye-tracking tech for the Samsung Exynos VR III HMD (head-mounted display), offers tantalizing hints of what to expect from a next-generation VR experience.
At Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017 (MWCS 2017) Samsung unveiled the Exynos VR III reference platform at its booth. The Exynos is a low-power chip that drives the self-contained Exynos VR III. This is in contrast to Samsung’s popular Gear VR device that relies on select Samsung cell phones to work.
Visual Camp notes that eye-tracking is crucial in making VR more computationally efficient. A process called “foveated rendering” provides full resolution in the area where you are looking and reduces it in the periphery. This takes some burden on the GPU and is consistent with how the human eye works; peripheral vision is not as sharp as what the eye is focused on.
Eye-tracking lets the Exynos VR III HDM follow your “gaze point.”
While eye tracking is the focus of the press release, it notes that the Exynos VR III will incorporate hand-tracking, voice-recognition, and facial expression-recognition technologies as well. As for Visual Camp, clearly the company is proud of its contribution: CEO Suk Yunchan said, “By collaborating with Samsung Electronics, our technology was internationally recognized at MWCS 2017, enabling us to secure a bridgehead for future global marketing efforts. Now, we will continue promoting the high quality of Korean startup technologies and products overseas.”
Samsung has not provided any official announcements regarding the Exynos VR III head-mounted display. Consequently, I can’t provide specifications (such as resolution), or any additional information regarding what it can do beyond what Visual Camp provided in its press release. But one thing is for sure, the Exynos VR III is not being developed in a vacuum.
With major players like Google, Sony, and Facebook embracing VR technology, one of the main hurdles that remains to achieving true 3D visual immersion is image quality. It is my hope that next-generation HDR OLED displays—with ultra-dense pixel grids, high color volume, and 120fps—will arrive sooner rather than later.
True VR immersion—where it looks just like reality—requires 120fps, 8K per eye resolution, full rec.2020 color space coverage, and 16 f/stops of dynamic range. I don’t expect to see that level of fidelity in prototype form before the end of this decade. However, I do think it’s possible that VR will soon provide an experience that matches or beats the quality you get from a UHD/4K TV or front-projection system, while also providing the interaction that VR allows for.
Whether you are a gamer, sports fan, movie lover, or are explicitly interested in exploring the unknown potential of VR worlds, the very existence of the Samsung Exynos VR III is exciting news.