Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Virtual Reality Just Got a Whole Lot Sharper

By Stephen Heirtzler

Credit to Pinmaxvr.com

Since the initial release of the Oculus Rift DK1 in March of 2013, virtual reality has experienced something of a revolution. With the ever improving capabilities of modern PCs, companies can finally explore its true potential.  However, new VR headsets have been slow to release, and the high end headset market is largely controlled by just three companies: HTC, Facebook, and Sony.

This may change soon, though.  Because, as of this month, a new player seems ready to enter the headset making game: Pimax Technology Co.

Pimax had previously released a 4k resolution headset to relatively minimal fanfare, but their new headset seems to go and above and beyond their own standards along with the industry standards. The headset is called The Pimax 8K and it is a game changer.

To understand why, we have to look at the two major limitations of virtual reality right now. The first limitation being field of view, and the second being resolution.

Credit to Oculus Rift
A headset’s field of view is dictated by the size of its lenses and the diameter of its display. The current generation of headsets have a field of view of about 110 degrees. Since the field of view of the human eye is about 210 degrees, that means that the experience of wearing a current generation headset is akin to wearing a skiing mask; large portions of your peripheral vision are obscured. This can have a negative impact on your immersion. You don’t feel quite as much like you’re “in the world” because of your limited field of view.
Arguably the most critical aspect of a VR headset’s immersiveness is its resolution. If a headset has fewer pixels to work with, the image will look noticeably jagged and blurry, dampening the illusion of looking into another world. Current generation headsets have a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1200 pixels per eye (about 2.6 million pixels). This means that small text and subtle details in a virtual environment are unreadable without getting closer. This also means that these headset suffer from something called “The Screen Door Effect” where, because of the separations between pixels, the          
image appears to be being viewed through the mesh of a screen door.

Credit to Youtube
What makes the Pimax 8k such a game changer is it sports both a 200 degree field of view (almost equal to that of the human eye) and a staggering resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels per eye (about 16.6 million pixels). This means that there is no screen door effect, and that the virtual world fills your visual field.

The Pimax 8k is set to ship out in January of next year, and when it does, it will provide the most immersive virtual reality experiences to date.

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