They’re focusing on delivering HDR, higher resolution screens and more to make VR truly realistic.
Meta wants to make it clear it’s not giving up on high-end VR experiences yet. So, in a rare move, the company is spilling the beans on several VR headset prototypes at once. The goal, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is to eventually craft something that could pass the “visual Turing Test,” or the point where virtual reality is practically indistinguishable from the real world. That’s the Holy Grail for VR enthusiasts, but for Meta’s critics, it’s another troubling sign that the company wants to own reality (even if Zuckerberg says he doesn’t want to completely own the metaverse).
As explained by Zuckerberg and Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist of Meta’s Reality Labs, creating the perfect VR headset involves perfecting four basic concepts. First, they need to reach a high resolution so you can have 20/20 VR vision (with no need for prescription glasses). Additionally, headsets need variable focal depth and eye tracking, so you can easily focus on nearby and far away objects; as well as fix optical distortions inherent in current lenses. (We’ve seen this tech in the Half Dome prototypes.) Finally, Meta needs to bring HDR, or high dynamic range, into headsets to deliver more realistic brightness, shadows and color depth. More so than resolution, HDR is a major reason why modern TVs and computer monitors look better than LCDs from a decade ago.
Image Credit: Meta
“The key here is that, thanks to holography, everything is thin and flat,” Abrash said. “The varifocal technology is flat, and so are all the holographic films used for Holocake, as well as prescription correction and eye tracking. And so it’s easy to keep adding thin, flat technologies. This means that the end product can pack more functionality into a smaller package than anything that exists today.”
It’ll be years before we see the Mirror Lake concept made real, let alone a shipping product combining all of that technology. But, much like Meta’s reported plans around AR glasses, this isn’t a battle the company plans to win anytime soon. We’ll need a decade’s worth of display innovation, not to mention haptics and other audio upgrades, to truly make virtual worlds seem real. Let’s just hope Meta isn’t the only company pouring this much time and energy into preparing for the future of VR.