The Tech That Will Push VR To The Limits Of The Human Eye

One of the biggest challenges is building better displays with far more pixels per inch, but experts say new materials and designs are on the way.

One of the biggest limitations is current display technology.

In a VR headset, screens sit just a few centimetres in front of our eyes, so they need to pack a huge number of pixels into a very small space to approach the definition you might expect from the latest 4K TV.

That’s impossible with today’s display.

Efforts to boost the performance of displays is complicated by the fact that this directly competes with another crucial goal: making.

A major reason why headsets are so large today is the array of optical elements they feature and the need to keep sufficient space between them and the displays to focus light properly.

Each of these interactions reduces the brightness of the images, which needs to be compensated for by more powerful and efficient displays.

Better displays are also needed to solve another important limitation of today’s devices: resolution.

Ultra-HD TV displays can achieve pixel densities of around 200 pixels per degree at distances of around 10 feet, far in excess of the roughly 60 PPD that the human eye can distinguish.

As VR displays are at most an inch or two from the viewer’s eyes, they can only achieve around 15 PPD. To match the resolution limits of the human eye, VR displays need to squeeze between 7,000 and 10,000 pixels into each inch of display, say the authors.

Despite keen interest from display technology companies, the technology is still nascent and likely further away from commercialization.

The most likely near-term innovation in displays, say the authors, is one that exploits a quirk of human biology.

If eye movements can be accurately tracked, then you only need to render the highest definition in the particular section of the display that the user is looking at.

It’s important to remember that there are a host of issues other than just better displays that will need to be solved if VR is to become widely commercialized.

The display technologies discussed by the researchers are primarily relevant to VR and not AR, whose headsets are likely to rely on very different optical technology that doesn’t obscure the wearer’s view of the real world.