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VR field changing rapidly to set standards

Posted: 18 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:augmented reality? virtual reality? smart glasses? wearables? GDC?

The virtual reality industry is developing fast, big enough even to get its own sub-track at the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) but has it grown enough to be ready for standards?

Panelists sat in uncertain silence when asked about the status of standards or best practices during a session on IEEE lessons learned in VR. The technology around virtual reality has changed too much over time to set standards, said for academics studying the field.

"In general there are no standards," said Pablo Figueroa associate professor at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia and the director of the DAVID Project, a joint effort to push the development of digital content. "Technology changes too much, so it makes some of our assumptions in the past totally unusable in the future."

Figueroa and fellow panelists said many of the tests they had conducted on virtual realityfor latency, motion sickness, spatial awareness and gesturewere done with equipment that is now a bit behind the times, including 150 degree field of vision cameras and 60Hz or 90Hz frame rates. Virginia Tech Professor Doug Bowman added that 10 years ago, head mounted displays fell out of vogue for testers in favour of CAVE Automatic Virtual Environments.

 IEEE panelists

Figure 1: IEEE panelists from left: Research Assistant Professor Evan A. Suma, University College London Professor Anthony Steed (speaking), Associate Professor at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia Pablo Figueroa, Virginia Tech Professor Doug Bowman.

"Standards are hard for academics to work on because you develop things that work in specific situations. A lot of those results are completely invalid because you didn't have systems that were under 30ms [latency]," said University College London Professor Anthony Steed, who presented findings on the effects of latency in VR on the body.

New applications and use cases for VR have made some researchers' assumption invalid, Figueroa added. Bowman sees this issue as an opportunity to redo classic experiments and improve on VR.

Meanwhile, Futuremark has spent the past year developing a new 3DMark benchmark for VR.

"The VR field is changing very rapidly," said Antti Hirvonen, the technical lead for graphics benchmarking at Futuremark. "The low latency, high frame rate, high resolutions and performance requirements are immense."

The spectrum of devices and potential use cases is also widening, so 3DMark ran two tests for mid-range performance on Oculus Rift and a second, more demanding test that surpasses the Rift minimum spec. Benchmarkers also noted performance levels for specific purposes, including 360-degree video, photos, and various degrees of gaming.

The first test, which measured medium intensity gaming, showed that the Oculus Rift was able to maintain more than 90 frames/second throughout most of the test. The second performance test for higher-level gaming showed a lot of stuttering and less than 90 frames/s throughout the whole test.

Hirvonen said several other tests are necessary before a benchmark can be solidified. Futuremark will conduct sensor accuracy tests to mimic head motion, a display quality test, as well as a time warp test to reduce latency and measure performance among different headsets.

Futuremark representatives didn't give a firm date for when its virtual reality benchmark would be finished. The company also wants to look into benchmarking augumented reality devices.

- Jessica Lipsky
EE Times

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