Meta's goal in next-gen VR headsets: 'indistinguishable from reality'

Meta's quest for VR dominance: next-gen headset prototypes that will drive virtual worlds 'indistinguishable from reality'.

Published Jun 20, 2022 8:46 PM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 14 2022 7:06 AM CDT
2 minutes & 44 seconds read time

Meta has displayed some new prototype VR headsets that the social networking + virtual reality giant says will drive the future of VR, displaying worlds that will be "indistinguishable from reality"... oh, and they're prototyping the new "Starburst" VR headset that is 200x brighter.

The new VR headsets are being worked on at Meta's Reality Labs Research division, with the team saying that they're using a "visual Turing test" that is a bar that needs to be met, in order to convince your visual system that what you're seeing in the virtual world, is real. The Turing test is used to see if an AI is capable of thinking like a human being.

This isn't just a simple case of higher resolution display + higher refresh rate... there's much more going on inside of these new prototype VR headsets than you'd think... especially when you compare it up to the Meta Quest 2 headset.

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Butterscotch: Meta teased a new prototype VR headset called "Butterscotch" which the company says can hit a retina resolution of 60 pixels per degree: paving the way for 20/20 vision. The team achieved this by using extremely pixel-dense displays, reducing the field of view, forcing the pixels into a smaller area, roughly half the size of the Quest 2. Meta says that it is also working on a "hybrid lens" that would "fully resolve" the increased resolution, where -- in the picture above -- shows the comparison between the original Oculus Rift, the current Quest 2, and the new Butterscotch prototype.

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Starburst: But then there's the crazy new prototype "Starburst" VR headset, which will melt your retinas with HDR of up to an insane 20,000 nits. It won't really melt your retinas, but rather it would allow realistic luminance that looks more like real life. Think about reflections, fires, light in darker scenes, and more. Remember, the Quest 2 headset hits a max 100 nits of brightness... so Starburst is 200x brighter.

Starburst is that hardcore it has dual fans on the prototype, which I'm not going to lie: I love to see that. It's a hardcore prototype from a ridiculously wealthy company with pockets so deep that Apple is about the only company that can compete at this insane level.

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Zuckerberg explained: "I think we're in the middle right now of a big step forward towards realism and in the creativity that that unlocks. I don't think it's going to be that long until we can create scenes with basically perfect fidelity".

"The human visual system is very complex and it's deeply integrated. Just seeing a realistic-looking image isn't enough to make you feel like you're really there. To get that feeling of immersion, you need all of the other visual cues as well that go with that".

Zuckerberg continued: "We estimate that getting to 2020 vision across the full human field of view would take more than 8K resolution. Because of some of the quirks of human vision, you don't actually need all those pixels all the time because our eyes don't actually perceive things in high resolution across the entire field of view".

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Michael Abrash: "Today's VR headsets have substantially lower color range, brightness, and contrast than laptops, TVs, and mobile phones. VR can't yet reach that level of fine detail and accurate representation that we've become accustomed to with our 2D displays".

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Meta Quest 2 - Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset - 128 GB

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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