Recent data from ABI Research has found the growing adoption of virtual reality (VR) devices worldwide is driving the demand for significantly higher quality displays. According to ABI forecasts, almost two-thirds or 66% of VR HMDs are expected to support 4K (Ultra HD) resolution in 2022.
Display resolution is one of the biggest challenges in VR head mounted displays (HMDs) and higher resolution displays are required to solve the screen door effect caused by short distances between the user’s eyes and the VR display. Displays with higher pixel density, wider field of view (FOV) and higher refresh rates are therefore being developed to provide consumers with a more immersive experience.
Although the majority of VR HMDs available today support resolution of 2K or less, HMDs with higher resolutions are starting to enter the market.
“Tethered VR devices, which are usually targeted at gaming applications, support higher resolutions displays compared to mobile or stand-alone segments. A number of tethered VR devices provide 2K resolution and some with 4K resolution displays have already hit the market,” says ABI Research industry analyst Khin Sandi Lynn.
VR prototypes with even higher resolution have already been developed by companies including Panasonic and Pimax. In early 2017 Panasonic demonstrated VR HMD with 6400×1440 resolution and 200° FOV by using four LCD display with 1600×1440 resolution each, while Pimax’s VR prototype supports 8K resolution with 200° FOV.
Gaming and high-end entertainment requiring higher graphics are likely to drive the demand for high resolution VR displays.
While improving the VR display resolution, headset makers are also working towards development of foveated rendering.
Foveated rendering features efficient eye-tracking technology that sharpens the image at the focus point of the eyes and reduces the resolution outside the focus point saving the graphic processing loads. Foveated rendering and eye tracking are likely to become important technologies in future VR HMDs for rendering high resolution images.
“While our eyes can see full resolution only at the centre of vision, foveated rendering tracks eye movement and enables the processor to render full resolution and display any area where the eyes are focusing,” says Khin.
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