Oculus has revealed that the standalone, entry-level mobile VR headset Oculus Go will support refresh rates up to 72Hz and will make use of fixed foveated rendering.

At GDC 2018 Oculus’s dedicated hour long session was a treasure trove of new and updated information (If you missed it you can re-cap via our live blog coverage right here). One of the many snippets of news was more detail on how the company’s  upcoming mobile, standalone VR headset Oculus Go handles rendering and on its display.

First up is Oculus Go’s display. We know from the device’s launch that the headset sports a “fast fill” (low latency / persistence) single LCD panel at a resolution of 2560 x 1440. What we didn’t know and was revealed today is that display can bump its refresh rate up to 72Hz if the application calls for it. Whilst it seems likely that this will be the gold standard for titles running on Go, given the low-cost, lower power on-board chipset inside the Go, we do wonder how many titles will be sacrifice visual fidelity for responsiveness. If developers do however, there’s a bonus in it for them. Chris Pruett (Head of Development Engineering) says if 72Hz mode is engaged that it’ll make the display look “perceptibly brighter” and “improves colors” concluding that “If you can accommodate 72Hz it’ll look really good!”

Image courtesy Oculus

Next up is rendering techniques for developers looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the Oculus Go hardware. If you’ve been a reader of Road to VR for a while, you’ll know that Foveated Rendering is one of the techniques many believe will allow VR rendering to reach the levels of detail and fidelity necessary to completely fool the human eye into accepting virtual reality as reality.

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Google Shares New Research into Foveated Rendering Techniques

In a nutshell, full foveated rendering detects where your eye is looking and instructs the application to only render a portion of the display (the portion your vision is centered on) in full detail, with less detail rendered the further you move from the centre of your gaze. When done right, it can be imperceptible to the player and in the process, save significant clock cycles as far less detail is rendered per frame. However, Oculus Go doesn’t sport any form of eye tracking, so how can the headset benefit?

Chris Pruett says that they’re recommending the use of Fixed Foveated Rendering which takes the same principles but from an assumed central point of gaze. Pruett says “One of the problems phones have had for years is that filling pixels is expensive,” continuing, “What we’ve done up to now is Rendering to a lower resolution eye buffer. But if you increase the eye buffer resolution, quality goes way up. We built something into Oculus Go called Fixed Foveated Rendering.”

Photo: Road to VR

Again, the central part of the image contains the most fine detail with less and less detail evident the further you move from the central point of the users assumed gaze (where vision is sharpest). Pruett also mentioned the Oculus team worked closely with Qualcomm, the providers of the Go’s onboard chipset (based on the company’s Snapdragon 821), to get the Fixed Foveated using a tile based renderer, working optimally.

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  • dogtato

    that’s a cool idea that’s obvious in hindsight. I wonder if steamvr could implement it or if it has to happen in other layers

    • kontis

      IIRC a simpler version of fixed foveated rendering is supported natively in PSVR’s SDK. It also in Source 2 and Batman, maybe even in Valve’s Unity Lab renderer.

  • Sofian

    Why move your eyes when you can just move your head?

    • Engineer_92

      YES! I own a rift (and I absolutely love it), but I travel quite frequently for work. I was not interested in the Go before but all of this news has caught my attention!

      • Sofian

        I was being sarcastic.

        • Engineer_92

          That was my first instinct, but I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt lol. Honestly tho, for what it is, the engineering behind this device at this price point is pleasantly surprising. It looks like the center of focus may be larger than most anticipate. And for the field of view, moving just your eyes isn’t much of a benefit. In the rift I end up moving my head anyways. Now let’s hope Santa Cruz has a larger field of view bc 110 just isn’t cutting it.

          • Mateusz Pawluczuk

            Judging by the diagram, you won’t notice any resolution drop unless you roll your eyeballs to the extreme left or right, which is something we rarely do in real life anyways. It should work well not only with movie apps but also all gaze based shooters which GearVR had plenty so I’m sure so will Go. Also, maybe it wil make games forward compatible with future eye tracking? All in all a win ;p

    • CURTROCK

      Why have any immersion whatsoever, when you can just stare at your phone?

    • Jistuce

      Eh, eye tracking would probably fail for me anyways since I have to wear glasses.

  • Vj

    hi. My cellphone is more powerful that this stupid chip. They re going backwards. Should focus on improving the rift for masses instead of creating this useless abomination not much better than a phone vr and much worse than rift. Imho

    • daveinpublic

      Hi. It’s just another option since VR adoption has been sad up to now. Some of the games for Go will be compatible with Rift so there’ll be more players in the game.

    • Engineer_92

      You could not be any more wrong. I advise you to go and visit this page: https://www.roadtovr.com/gdc-2018-inside-oculus-2018-session-live-blog-930am-pdt

    • OkinKun

      You’re cellphone has to run tons of software while you use it.. Which bogs it WAY down in comparison. The Go is not a phone, and it has a custom android operating system with everything not related to VR stripped out. Phones have to run standard Android stuff, with carrier apps on top of that, and then whatever personal apps you also want.. Whereas Oculus Go has hardware level access to make it run FAR better than any present-day phone can. lol

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I guess your cellphone does cost a lot more than $200..

  • Lmao_3dof

    It’s 2018 and they just start using Fixed Foveated Rendering? 3DoF? 72Hz?? o.O

    • Mei Ling

      Has the $200 price tag not informed you enough already?

    • OkinKun

      And this article’s most absurd comment award goes to…
      Seriously wut? They didn’t “just start” using it.. This was an intentional design choice, after years of VR research.. The Oculus Go is made to be low-cost, to get more people into VR.. It’s an upgrade to the GearVR, only cheaper since it doesn’t use a phone or PC to power it.
      It’s made for seated experiences, which don’t really require more than 3DoF at this stage, when we’re talking GearVR level games and 360 content.
      And with a good screen 72Hz is actually perfectly fine.. But that’s also down to pixel switching times and such, which I assume their custom screen is very good at.

      • Paula

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      • Chad Capeland

        It’s an upgrade to 2016 GearVR. The display and optics are better, but the processor is unfortunately not current gen. For video, this is basically fine, but for interactive VR applications like games it would have been nice to offer a $400 version with a Snapdragon 845, which would have made it a clear upgrade to 2018 GearVR.

    • gnarppy

      It is ridiculous, but so is Go in the first place.

      • Mark Lapasa

        I do believe there is a curious iPhone market out there where they don’t want to buy a Samsung phone to experience mobile VR.

        Also not every Android user is a Samsung user so there is a potential market for this. Its just a matter of content.

        • wcalderini

          This.

        • gnarppy

          I meant the idea of a 3dof personal media viewer “VR” headset being ridiculous. Especially from a supposed VR company that knows better. But they are desperate for users, so whatever it takes i guess. 90% of people I’ve read saying they want one want it just for porn, so that’s nice…

    • Toma Meneses

      Relevant username.

    • impurekind

      Yeah, this is all a step back just to accommodate the casuals and to fit into the cheaper price. But I’d rather they focused on trying to bring the current and superior headsets down to around this price somehow rather than producing a lower experience for all these newcomers just jumping into VR at this more affordable price. I just hope it doesn’t end up poisoning the well for everyone. I mean, at one point Oculus was saying that 90Hz was the min refresh rate you’d want in VR, but now so many headsets seem to be going for a lower refresh rate, and just doesn’t feel like the right way to go imo. We want to be trying to bump them up to 120Hz and above as fast as we can, not go backwards. But whatever.

  • oompah

    Thumbs up
    I congratulate Oculus team to think on these lines
    Foveated tech is great for VR
    especially it reduces processing effort
    Also when combined with ray tracing it will be indistinguishable
    from the real world , the final frontier of marketing & business
    where u can make ur customers feel great in a make believe world
    where entertainment will reach new levels
    where all ur desires can be fulfilled
    but the headset is too cumbersome
    it should become like glasses especially as like in the comics world
    the old Phantom character like glasses (or of spiderman)
    ———-
    I also urge the chip makers snapdragon et al
    to built in the foveated & ray tracing tech right into the h/w chips

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    This headset will have the entire VR porn industry backing it. It’s the cheapest high quality headset on the market right now – there’s no need for 6DOF when it comes to VR video. This is the perfect VR porn device, Oculus know it even though they never market it as such but it’s going to sell really well for just this purpose.

  • Francesco Fazio

    Possibly that you guys dont mention how the graphic quality and the VR experience is compared to the Rift ? I would like to know how worse it is compared to the device I own. I just cant wait for Santa Cruz

  • Graham J ⭐️

    This makes a lot of sense since the supersampling used to offset the quality degradation that occurs when pre-distorting the image to account for lens distortion adds pixels to the periphery.

    But I still won’t buy a headset made by Facebook.

  • brandon9271

    I’d have to be under anesthesia to care less about something..

  • Heliosurge

    Definitely an interesting read. Now Oculus is demonstrating they don’t beleive their research of 87hz? Min for VR anymore. Fixed Foveate rendering while not ideal may work okay just depends on how much the reduced res is noticeable if one flicks the eyes instead of head movement. We’ll just have to await some good hands on reviews.

    I am still curious to see if Razer plans to create a headset idea like Samsung GearVR. However GearVR is not the most expensive phone headset. One i came accross is BridgeVR for the Iphone which uses the “Structure Sensor” for roomscale & more.

    • gnarppy

      The ~90Hz target is for inducing presence. A 3dof cheap “VR” headset won’t be able to induce presence as no positional tracking, and no 6dof controls.

      The reason they’re going 72Hz is solely because 24fps video x3 is 72fps, and dropping to 60Hz for 30 and 60 fps video.

      This device is only really useful for watching video. Carmack even calls it his Netflix machine to give example.

  • There’s a technical article on Oculus blogs that goes deeper in the details of these things. I advise you to read it!