philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


VR’s next horizon: Retina displays right in front of your retinas

image1But the “Retina Display” concept is now only weeks away from taking a major step forward — because of screens that are being placed only an inch or two away from your actual retinas. Recent advances in technology are enabling screen makers to promise 1,000ppi and 2,000ppi displays for virtual reality headsets, and they should appear in public for the first time on May 22 at SID’s Display Week in Los Angeles.

If you can make the lens stronger while retaining clarity, you can make the screen smaller, which can reduce the size and weight of the VR headset as a whole.

That tradeoff — a bigger, clunkier VR headset or a smaller, lighter one — is why Sony’s joint venture Japan Display just disclosed that it created both 803ppi and 1001ppi screens for next-generation VR. It said explicitly that 1000ppi or greater screens, aided by new lenses, will be necessary to enable VR headsets to shrink.

Taiwan’s INT saysthat it’s developed an “ultra high pixel density” 2228ppi AMOLED for VR, but hasn’t provided any other specifications — the screen size, the refresh rate, colors, or overall resolution. And LG has co-developed a 4.3-inch, 18-megapixel 1443ppi OLED with Google for VR. All of these new screens will be shown off at Display Week. Apple has also been working on perfecting its own MicroLED screens, which could be used in future VR products.

So what does this all mean for VR?

Based on where screen technology is going, it’s safe to assume two major trends for VR over the next couple of years: Some headsets will just boast radically improved levels of detail, while others are going to get much sharper, smaller, and lighter at the same time. It’s fair to assume that companies will start trying to charge more for the smaller headsets, turning comfort into a “premium” feature, though realistically miniaturization rarely comes cheap.

The major limitation is going to be the pixel-pushing power of the computers connected to the headsets.

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