The year 2016 is when virtual reality will finally take its flight. We’ve seen a few VR headsets already but the industry has yet to become more common. The smartwatch is already in that level after a couple of years. As for VR, it may take less time because companies are improving on the parts and components more quickly than ever. We’ve lost count of how many VR devices we’ve seen and tried but we know each device still needs to be improved. We just know they need more powerful graphics card to play high-resolution images.
Of all the VR headsets available, there’s the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift offering high-res and high-fidelity experience. However, they still need to be connected to a computer which needs to be very powerful. They are also very expensive just like the other VRs available in the market. There are cheaper ones ready but they still need smartphones to work as the display screen. You can practically have one for free with the Google Cardboard although resolution isn’t as impressive.
The VR industry still has more room for improvements but progress is still a bit slow. Good things there’s the Microsoft Research for working on enhancements such as the FlashBack. It’s a new system that boasts of better framerate (8X) and latency reduction (15X), and less energy consumption (97X). Flashback is considered as a new algorithmic approach for high-quality VR environments. What it does is to reduce rendering of real-time frames for the virtual realm. The result is no need for GPU.
This system allows pre-rendering of images for even those in high-res or mega-frames to be displayed smoothly. Other special features of Flashback also include compression and storage of mega-frames in the RAM or SSD or even those in a larger VR environment. The key here is to compress files right on the flash storage and then allow a VR app to be pre-loaded on a smartphone or VR frame.
Demos were made on the Oculus Rift DK2 headset and the HP Pavilion Mini recently. The technology is still in its initial stages so don’t expect too much. FlashBack still needs to be developed and tested fully because it can be used commercially.