An Nvidia researcher has revealed a manufacturing technique that could quadruple the perceived resolution of future virtual reality headsets, using a technique called 'display cascading.'
Interest in virtual reality has exploded of late, thanks largely to a record-breaking Kickstarter crowd-funding programme and subsequent $2 billion Facebook buy-out by Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rift headset family. Its initial product, the Oculus Rift Developer Kit, used low-resolution displays to create an immersive three-dimensional environment before the wearer; its successor, the Developer Kit 2, switches to a higher-resolution panel that better hides the individual pixels that can spoil the illusion. They're not entirely hidden, however, owing to the close-up nature of the display that floats just a few inches away from the wearer's eyes.
A prototype headset produced by Nvidia suggests a new technique for improving the perceived resolution of virtual reality displays, according to a report in MIT's Technology Review
today. The brainchild of David Luebke, senior director of research in visual computing at Nvidia, the prototype uses a cascaded display system produced by modifying two otherwise unremarkable off-the-shelf liquid-crystal display panels.
The spatial light modulation panel - a layer of tiny shutters, one per pixel, that can block off or allow light through - from one LCD is removed and placed over a second panel, offset from its own. This offset effectively splits each pixel into four individually-addressable areas - quadrupling the effective resolution at the cost of a decrease in brightness. Coupled with some clever driver optimisations, Luebke claims a cascaded display offers both improved resolution and a doubling of perceived framerate - achieved by running the two panels out of synchronisation.
Luebke is to formally unveil the manufacturing technique at a conference in August, but the company's research is already available for access on the official website