How the PSVR 2’s Foveated Rendering can Transform VR – Guide

VR has come quite a distance from the authentic Oculus Rift, but there is room for improvement. Foved rendering is a sophisticated technology that is present in some headphones, although it is rumored to be common in Sony’s upcoming PSVR 2 headphones.

What is the Foveated Vision?

We’ve emphasized foveated rendering since 2018 as an important part of the future of VR, but years later it’s still an obscure concept. The main clue to what foveated rendering is comes from its name. The fovea is the central part of the retina. The retina is the part of the eye’s anatomy that converts light into nerve signals, which the brain processes into the images you see. Only the fovea provides a sharp, detailed view. The fovea only covers one to two percent of your field of view, so how can we see our field of view so clearly? The answer is that our eyes are constantly moving in a sweeping pattern known as a “saccade”. By scanning the sharp range of our view of the environment, our brains stitch together a high-resolution image. Of course you are not aware of this process. This is where foveated rendering (literally) comes into play. Why display the entire scene on the screen in maximum detail when the viewer can only see that detail on a small part of the screen at a time? Tracking where the viewer’s fovea is pointed at any given time allows the GPU to redirect resources to that point. This means that the viewer sees a much higher quality rendered image than the available computing power actually can.

Foveated rendering is still rare

As you can imagine, few VR headsets you can buy today have built-in eye tracking for foveated rendering. Despite this, VR hardware and software developers are clearly gearing up for this. For example, the Oculus Quest Software Development Kit (SDK) supports fixed foveated rendering. This is a related version of foveated rendering that does not rely on eye tracking, but reduces rendering of detail at the edge of the image in general. As long as the user looks at the central part of the screen, it works well enough, but if you look around the VR world without turning your head, lower quality image elements will be revealed.

Making the most of the console’s power

Why a high end feature in the VR world to be on a conventional console VR platform? The main answer is that consoles like the PS5 have to survive for years with a fixed pool of processing power. When it comes to PC VR, you can keep upgrading to more powerful hardware, using brute force to get the image quality you want. With the original PSVR for PS4, Sony has already shown that you can create triple AAA VR experiences with minimal hardware if you work smart. While the PS5’s specs are impressive today, they’ll be pedestrian in a year or two, so building an efficient performance multiplier into the hardware, like foveated rendering, is a wise move, even if it increases the initial cost of the hardware. If we see another mid-gen update in the same vein as the PS4 Pro, it still doesn’t solve the problem. After all, even if you have a more powerful console update, any software released for the platform should still run fine on the original model.

A new way to communicate in VR

Foveated rendering that uses eye tracking brings more to the table than just more efficient rendering and better quality images. It provides a new way to interact with VR worlds. If the software knows exactly what the user is seeing in the scene, that information can be used as input. For example, it can help characters respond to your gaze or trigger events, like discovering a clue in an adventure game. This is certainly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential uses, developers will come up with. But before VR experiences and games can integrate these mechanics, eye-controlled foveated rendering needs a broad install base.

Final note

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