Today HP revealed its next-gen WMR headset, Reverb G2. While the original Reverb beat out the competition in resolution, some aspects of its display held it back from really capitalizing on all those pixels. Reverb G2 brings with it brand new displays and lenses which offer outstanding clarity.
‘Clarity’ is a subjective term which I use to try to boil down how sharp and clear the virtual world looks through a VR headset. There’s all kinds of things that contribute or detract from clarity. Resolution is surely important, but so are things like screen-door effect, mura, persistence, color smearing, and plenty more contributed by the lenses. ‘Clarity’ is the ultimate result of all of these factors.
When aiming for optimal clarity in a VR headset, any one of the aforementioned elements could be the bottleneck, so matching all these factors is key.
The original Reverb clearly still has the best resolution of any major consumer headset thanks to its 2,160 × 2,160 per-eye displays. And, arguably, it has the greatest clarity too. And yet Reverb G2, despite having the exact same resolution, has notably better clarity compared to Reverb G1.
But how do headsets with the same resolution, same display size, and same field of view offer different clarity? Even though the common paper specs are the same, the lenses and displays are different.
Road to VR got an exclusive hands-on with a first-run prototype of the Reverb G2. I’m fortunate enough to get early glimpses of hardware like this regularly; given that things can still change, I often withhold firm judgements until seeing how the final product shapes up. Even at this stage—where some things are still in flux—I’m confident in calling it Reverb G2 the king of clarity.
Recapping Reverb G1
The G1 has a high pixel density, giving it more resolving power than any other headset in its class. But the display and lenses had some issues that were ultimately holding clarity back.
Notably, the G1 displays had a perceived mura effect; this is similar in appearance but wholly different in origin than the more commonly known screen-door effect (AKA SDE). Mura looks a bit like a faint, fine mesh covering the lenses, or like the display is a bit cloudy. On a phone or TV display, mura isn’t much of a concern because the display doesn’t move with your head. In a VR headset, mura—just like SDE—is more noticeable because it moves over the virtual world as you move your head.
In addition to the mura on G1, the headset also had some surprising red smearing. This can only be seen when moving your head, but the effect causes any red colors in the image drag or ‘ghost’ slightly behind the other colors. This is exacerbated when the red is against certain colors and with fast head movement.
And finally, Reverb G1 had a bit more chromatic aberration (slight color separation toward the edges of the lens) than I would have expected. This wasn’t a major factor in clarity, but most headsets exhibit very little chromatic aberration, and, as you can imagine, the better aligned the light is coming through the headset, the sharper the image will appear.
I’m not bashing the G1 here. It’s a solid headset that’s lead the way in resolution and pixels per degree in the latest wave of consumer VR headsets. But it felt like it had some untapped potential in clarity because of these display and lens bottlenecks.
Reverb G2 unlocks that potential by largely clearing up these issues with new displays and new lenses.
The perceived mura has been nearly eliminated, which alone makes a big difference. G1 was the first consumer headset to effectively eliminate the screen-door effect thanks to its pixel density, but you couldn’t be blamed for not noticing because mura took its place to a degree. With the mura gone on G2, the headset is getting a more ‘quality’ out of its pixels.
(Even though SDE is effectively gone, that’s not to say that G2 has “retina resolution;” you’ll still be able to see aliasing at this resolution. Eliminating SDE is different than achieving pixel density which meets the resolving power of the human eye. Maybe for G3—what do you say, HP?)
So, mura goes down and clarity goes up. This is good. But what about the other stuff? As far as I’ve been able to see, G2 has also eliminated the red-smear which is another nice win over the G1. Some chromatic aberration is still there, though HP tells me that the prototype I was testing hasn’t had a final calibration pass, and it expects this will bring further improvements to chromatic aberration, and possibly some other aspects.
HP also tells me that the redesigned G2 lenses (yes, they’re fresnel) have improved resolving power compared to the G1, which further enhances clarity. You can think of this a bit like ‘sharpening’ the pixels that you’re seeing through the lens.
Like the original Reverb, the displays in G2 are 90Hz LCD. Though HP says they have improved contrast and brightness. That improved brightness has also allowed them to lower the persistence of the display (the amount of time the display stays lit during each refresh). Reducing persistence means the image will look sharper during head movement.
Another win for G2 is a physical IPD adjustment which ranges from 60mm to 68mm, which means that a broader range of people will be able to move the lenses into the ideal position to get the most from the G2’s impressive visuals.
Boiling all of this down, Reverb G2 is the king of clarity, and I feel confident that this will be the headset’s defining factor.
When I fired up Half-Life: Alyx, coming from Index, the G2 nearly felt like looking at the game with new eyes. I was drawn to details that never caught my attention before, like scratches in the shotgun’s metal, letters printed on the side of the pistol, and innocuous stickers covering a gutter pipe. I also quickly noticed that many of the game’s textures don’t quite hold up to G2’s resolution (too soon!).
When I pulled up Bigscreen to see what it was like to use my PC desktop through the headset, it was the first time I didn’t quickly feel bothered by the resolution. The remaining bottleneck for doing typical PC productivity work in VR without compromise is now more in the realm of, field of view, sweet spot, and comfort.
– – — – –
And that’s really just the visuals of the headset. Beyond that, G2 brings a sweeping list of improvements over G1 and other WMR headsets, like better tracking, controllers, ergonomics, audio, and more, all of which we detailed in our Reverb G2 announcement article. HP also announced that the G2 is available for pre-order starting today priced at $600, with an expected release date in the Fall.
Clearly there was a lot to talk about with the G2’s visuals, so I’ll save some thoughts on other parts of the headset for a future article. I will say now, however, that I haven’t yet been able to try the new controllers. Beyond that, let me know what else you’d like to know about the headset in the comments below.
PSVR 2: Everything We Know About Sony’s Unannounced Headset
PSVR 2 – it’s the question on everyone’s minds. When will we see Sony’s next headset? What new features will it include? Will it ever actually release?
There’s still a lot to learn about Sony’s future plans for VR in a crucial year for PlayStation itself. As PS5 ramps up for release, we find ourselves endlessly speculating about what VR will look like on the new console. We do know a few things about the possibility of PSVR 2, though, all of which we’ve rounded up for you in one handy article below.
PSVR 2 Will Run On PS5, Which Is Out This Year
This one’s a bit of a no brainer but, just in case you didn’t know; PSVR 2 will be released for PS5. Sony’s next-generation console has now been officially revealed, and it’s coming out this holiday season. Provided it’s not delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re just waiting for Sony to tell us more about it; we still don’t know the price or an exact release date. Sony has an official page for the console with more details.
It goes without saying that, if a new PSVR headset is going to be released, it’ll come out on PS5. The headset would need to take advantage of the console’s improved horsepower. PS4 was able to deliver some amazing VR experiences, but it was no secret that it couldn’t measure up to games pushing the limits of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index. The added processing power of the PS5 should go a long way to improving the PSVR experience. Luckily, it looks like that’s the case…
PS5 Specs Show Promise For PSVR 2
While it’s keeping quiet on many features, Sony did recently release specs for the PS5, promising high-end PC power for console VR. Here’s a chart outlining the specs for the console stacked up against the PS4 and enhanced PS4 Pro, whipped up by our own David Heaney.
Based on these specs, we’re expecting PS5 to be comparable to Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super in terms of GPU power, and six times more powerful than the standard PS4. That will enable a huge leap forward for console VR games; hopefully no more blurry PSVR ports at the very least. Plus the console boasts an on-board solid-state drive (SSD) that Sony says reduces load times to near-instant. Again, that could have a big impact on crafting believable virtual worlds.
Sony Is Researching Next-Generation Headsets For PSVR 2
Perhaps the most important point to stress here; we know for fact Sony is researching the device that could become PSVR 2. In mid-2019, Sony’s Vice President of R&D, Dominic Mallinson gave a talk outlining what to expect from the next generation of VR headsets.
He outlined devices that boast ‘roughly double’ the pixel count of then-current headsets (PSVR, Rift, Vive) and support for high dynamic range, which brings a wider array of colors to the screen. Plus Mallinson pointed towards a wider, 120 degree field of view to see more of the virtual world, and optional wireless support. There might even be eye-tracking included.
Not to mention that there’s been a steady stream of revealing patents for a potential PSVR 2 over the past few years. We’ve seen fillings for new tracking tech, systems for local multiplayer VR and more. Beyond that, we don’t know exactly what stage Sony is at with developing PSVR 2.
…But PSVR 2 Probably Won’t Be Out This Year
Shortly after his talk, Mallinson stressed that any possible to successor to PSVR probably wouldn’t arrive alongside PS5. ” “There’s no reason for us to coincide it with a new console,” he explained. “From the point of view of the consumer, to be bombarded with many many things — oh, you have to buy this, you have to buy that — is a message that we don’t want to send.”
Given that PS5 is out at the end of the year, that likely means we won’t see PSVR 2 until 2021 at the very earliest. Better dig in; it’s going to be a long wait.
In The Meantime, PS5 Supports PSVR
Not only is PS5 backwards compatible, but we know the console will support the original PSVR, too. That means you’ll be able to play original PSVR games on the headset. We’re also hoping that PSVR developers will be able to update their titles with PS5-specific features, perhaps improving the visuals and performance of existing games, but such support hasn’t been confirmed. Sony says the ‘vast majority’ of PS4 games will work on PS5, so exactly how many PSVR games will work remains to be seen, though the console was revealed with a new HD camera.
DualSense Seems PSVR 2-Ready
In April, Sony gave us a first look at its brand new controller, DualSense. This gamepad iterates on the DualShock 4 with advanced haptic feedback technology and trigger resistance. More intriguing, though, is the moving of the light bar that tracks the controller’s position from the front of the pad to the top. Two thin strips now appear on the sides of the touchpad. This could be a hint that PSVR 2 will have inside-out tracking, with a camera mounted to the headset. That’s all speculation at this point, though.
Expect Some Motion Controller Updates Too
PlayStation Move troubles are one of PSVR’s biggest problems. They don’t have analog sticks and it’s easy to move your arms out of view of the camera unless you have a hugely optimized setup.
Thankfully, we’re expecting this situation to improve on PSVR 2. Lots of Sony patents have suggested the company might be looking into new Move controllers. One specifically mentions some interesting haptic technologies and trigger resistance, the same features being applied in DualSense. Plus a recently-released research video seen above pointed to the controllers having new finger-tracking tech. We’re hopeful to see all these new features come together in the new motion controllers.
Some PS5 Games Seem Primed For PSVR 2
Last month’s gaming showcase for PS5 definitely featured some titles that look primed and ready for VR support. Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village are good bets considering their previous iterations supported PSVR,
What’s your take on PSVR 2? Are you looking forward to the headset? Let us know in the comments below!
Location-based entertainment: Immerse UK webinar to assess its future
Location-based entertainment has turned from a clear application for immersive tech into a revenue-less market fearing for its future. Immerse UK’s webinar on 3 July will address its future
➨ What? Immersive Commercial Entertainment—Current and Future Business: Immerse UK has assembled a panel of experts to assess the current situation in location-based entertainment and discuss how VR providers can move forward
➨ When? 3 July 2020 @ 12.30pm to 1.30pm GMT
Location-based VR entertainment providers, venues and organisations interested in turning their intellectual property into experiences should tune in to immersive technology network Immerse UK’s webinar on the fate of the sector.
Since the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak forced venues and businesses to close earlier this year, location-based entertainment has turned from a clear application for immersive tech into a revenue-less market fearing for its future.
Immerse UK has assembled a panel of experts to assess the current situation and discuss how location-based VR entertainment providers can move forward.
They will also explore practical measures that need to be introduced to ensure social distancing, as well as hygiene standards and best practice.
Panellists include Kevin Williams, of KWP Limited, Joanna Popper of HP, Simon Reveley of Figment Productions, Leif Petersen of Hologate, and Steve Tagger of nDreams, so the webinar will not be short of expertise and experience. Make sure you tune in on 3 July.
Tipping point for location-based entertainment
As far as VR is concerned, the future of location-based entertainment feels like it is at a tipping point.
Customers fearful of Covid-19 may think twice before returning to their favourite venue, while social distancing measures such as staying more than 1m apart may prove too impractical or costly to implement.
The approaches being taken by providers show both careful consideration and innovation in the face of uncertainty.
Global provider Zero Latency VR is looking ahead to 2021, when the pandemic may well be behind us, through a new partnership with Ubisoft to create a brand new free-roaming VR gaming experience.
In the meantime, Zero Latency is installing its free-roam VR systems in venues around the world remotely, from its headquarters in Australia.
New clients are now able to unpack and install their systems, as well as train their staff in its proper operation, all under the guidance of the Zero Latency VR Team via online collaboration tools, an extensive training library and regularly scheduled video calls.
The first venue to install this was Rancho Cucamonga in the US.
US-based Spaces, meanwhile, moved quickly earlier this year and developed a VR video conferencing tool to replace its lost revenue stream.
VRstudios has a large operation in North America, most notably through a partnership with Dave & Buster’s. It is very much working on getting back to normal as soon as it is safe to do so, and is taking a number of measured steps.
Chief executive officer and chairman Kevin Vitale wrote earlier this month that VRstudios is developing solutions that will help the recovery, including a body of resources and guidelines that will inform how to open safely.
A big focus for VRstudios is customer trust. To that end, Vitale said the provider is adding procedural checklists inside the operator panel of its Attraction Management Platform (AMP) that the attraction attendant uses to get players started and launch a VR experience.
He explained: “For example, it can be set so that attraction won’t start until the attendant physically verifies the cleaning status of the equipment between each play. We continue to develop features for automation and integration with hygiene equipment reporting their status or triggering certain operations through AMP.”
VRstudios has also partnered with Cleanbox on headset hygiene and an upcoming best practice guide.
Vitale went on to promise the release of new products and updates that amplify real-world sports and competitive experiences in VR, as well as increased player engagement and profile management, expanded VR platform support, and new system configurations that are flexible and manageable with current hygiene and social distancing guidelines in mind.
DO YOU HAVE AN IMMERSIVE TECH-FOCUSED THAT YOU WANT TO TELL ENTERPRISE LEADERS ABOUT? IS THERE AN EVENT OUTSIDE OF IMMERSIVE TECH THAT DEVELOPERS WOULD BENEFIT FROM ATTENDING? LET US KNOW VIA EDITOR@VRWORLDTECH.COM AND WE’LL CONSIDER IT FOR PROS+CONS
Main image: Canva
Cutting Hair Using Quest Hand Tracking Looks Impressive With PC Power
He used Unity on PC combined with Quest’s hand tracking for a test that might make Rift S owners out there shake their fists in rage. That’s because he was able to use the HairStudio Unity asset to simulate a full(ish) head of hair with the power of a PC and combine that with Oculus Quest’s hand tracking in the Unity editor.
You can see the results here:
Oculus Quest’s hand tracking is severely limited but it also points the way to Facebook’s future plans. To improve tracking, future headsets might sample their surroundings at faster rates, or carry on-board infrared illumination to better see your hands. A recent test conducted with one of Beauchamp’s experiments and three American Sign Language signers made clear how limited the current implementation is, but a Facebook representative nonetheless said the use case is an area “worth exploring.”
In the case of Beauchamp’s scissors test, the most intriguing bit is in the slight haptic feedback he receives from pressing his fingers against one another. This sensation is part of the reason Facebook uses a specific pinch gesture to universally access the menu with an Oculus Quest. A very similar gesture is used for the small simulated clippers he’s got in his fingers, so as he cuts the virtual hair, his fingers press against one another to provide their own subtle sense of resistance similar to what would be felt during real-life hair cutting.
“You know that feeling when you used a VR bow for the first time…like ‘wow, the haptics feel like I’m pulling back a string,’ ” Beauchamp wrote in a direct message. “The tactile feedback combined with audio makes for a really convincing effect.”
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