Earlier this year, Clay Bavor, VP of VR/AR at Google, revealed a “secret project” to develop a VR-optimised OLED panel capable of 20 megapixels per eye. The project was mentioned during SID Display Week 2017 but has gone largely under the radar as little information has surfaced since.

Following a general overview of the limits of current VR technology, and an announcement that Google is working with Sharp on developing LCDs capable of VR performance normally associated with OLED, Bavor revealed an R&D project that hopes to take VR displays to the next level. A video of the session comes from ARMdevices.net’s Nicolas “Charbax” Charbonnier.

“We’ve partnered deeply with one of the leading OLED manufacturers in the world to create a VR-capable OLED display with 10x more pixels than any commercially available VR display today,” Bavor said. At 20 megapixels per eye, this is beyond Michael Abrash’s prediction of 4Kx4K per eye displays by the year 2021.

“I’ve seen these in the lab, and it’s spectacular. It’s not even what we’re going to need in the ‘final display’” he said, referring to the sort of pixel density needed to match the limits of human vision, “but it’s a very large step in the right direction.”

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Bavor went on to explain the performance challenges of 20 MP per eye at 90-120 fps, which works out at unreasonably high data rates of 50-100 Gb/sec. He briefly described how foveated rendering combined with eye tracking and other optical advancements will allow for more efficient use of such super high resolution VR displays.

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  • NeoTechni

    My GPU just died a little.

    • Luke

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    • Vrium

      What about “virtually” densify pixel density of a real screen ?

      A physical screen can’t be reduced like magic, but it’s emitting light “projection” can be reduced at a point…Where pixel density would be huge !

      • daveinpublic

        Awww, did you reply to the top comment so you’d be noticed?

      • brandon9271

        I have no idea what you just said…

        • rob

          I think he is trying to say that rather than reducing the size of the screen so much could they not use optics to allow a larger display to be used, which, possibly yes, but it’s a lot harder to look around with a 49″ tv strapped to your face

      • Sylvain

        That’s the purpose of Foveated Rendering, and Google presented two new methods of doing so in December: “Phase-Aligned Rendering” (with two different density ares) and “Conformal Rendering” (with a smoothly varying density)

        https://research.googleblog.com/2017/12/introducing-new-foveation-pipeline-for.html

    • Whatever910

      2 words: Foveated rendering

  • Evgeni Zharsky

    It’s not really the pixels that bother me (using Samsung Odyssey) it’s more so the FOV. at 110 I still feel like I’m looking through a scuba mask and that’s what breaks immersion more so than pixel count, imo.

    • polysix

      you need pixel count to get bigger FOV. They are linked.

      • Evgeni Zharsky

        How so? My Odyssey has higher pixel count than Rift/Vive but they all have 110 degree FOV.

        • stenyak

          If you stretch the pixels to cover a wider FOV, the image will be blurry. You need to use new extra pixels to fill the extra FOV if you don’t want degraded quality.

          • MosBen

            Yeah, but the quotes in the article are clearly talking about higher pixel density, not using more pixels to cover a broader FOV. They mention matching the pixel density of human vision, not the range of our eyesight. Now, I’m sure that this technology could be used to make wider panels that increased FOV. But I agree with Evgeni that FOV is a much bigger issue than pixel density.

        • Robbie Zeigler

          Because your odyssey has a higher resolution and the pixels are packed in tighter together. If you had say a 200fov without changing the number of pixels you would have a worse looking screen than a vive in the area of image sharpness.

    • Michael

      So the Pimax will increase the resolution but only by a little, what it really does is cover your entire field of vision with the screen, so you’re set.

      • Kev

        It’s still 16M pixels vs. just ~2m on an Oculus. 8X the resolution spread over 2X the area. So it’s still about 4 times the density. I would say that is far more than slightly better.

        • digitalhardcore1985

          Although this vastly improves SDE don’t forget the pimax 8k is still only getting a 1440p signal which it upsamples to 8k. No PC on the market could handle 2 x 4k at 90Hz.

          • daveinpublic

            That’s true, but I was wondering if you could eventually increase the signal that comes in with a software update or something? When the computers get faster?

          • digitalhardcore1985

            They were talking about releasing an 8kx model that took a native resolution input but in the standard model I think the one cable ia going to be a limiting factor unfortunately.

          • Kev

            I think their solution to the problems of FOV and SDE is really clever. It’s the right next step and gets us a long way within what is possible with current hardware.

          • digitalhardcore1985

            It’s the best we can hope for with current technology, I didn’t back but will purchase if consumer reviews are good.

          • JustNiz

            SLI’d Titans would do it easily.

    • impurekind

      Yeah, right now I think FOV is more noticeable as a limitation than the resolution.

      • daveinpublic

        That’s probably why they’re increasing resolution, because they want to increase FOV.

        • impurekind

          Hopefully.

      • JustNiz

        I think both are a real limitation. In many games resolution doesn’t really affect gameplay, but games like Fallout4 VR where you are outside and should be able to see distant detail, but can’t make out anything in the virtual world more than about 200ft away just because of the pixellation, its REALLY noticeable.

        • impurekind

          True. And it’s especially annoying when you try to read anything at more than a few inches from you face that isn’t written at a giant scale too.

        • Bryan Schneiders

          For Fallout 4 VR, the game itself is the limit by default. In Steam VR developer settings, turn up super sampling to 4x and try FO4 again.

    • JeanClaude

      Agreed, full FOV and something that can allow focus to always be where your eyes are looking at I think should be prioritized.

    • brandon9271

      For me it’s optics and image quality. I can get used to low FOV and SDE but i cannot get used to god rays and poor focus. The Odyssey has a great screen but still suffers from a small “sweet spot.” I’d still like to try out the dual element lenses of the OSVR HDK. Actually, I’d like to frankenstein the HDK optics into one of the consumer HMDs.

  • Hivemind9000

    My Pimax 8K with 200 degree FoV should keep me going until this comes out. One thing’s for certain – these headsets are going to need eye tracking to enable foveated rendering so GPUs can keep up.

    • Cdaked

      I would not be surprised if the current Pimax 8K panels are from Sharp and with this technology.

      • polysix

        no, that’s just marketing. (they are 4k for a start) and pretty shitty LCD.

        • Cdaked

          A friend of mine tested version 3 prototype of the Pimax 8K with those 4K panels and liked it. We both became backers.

          • Michael

            Yep, their panels are solid. They’re not OLEDs which are ideal, but at that price, can you complain?

          • JustNiz

            Kinda. I would have gladly paid more for OLED. Besides, Rift and Vive are OLED and the cost for just the headset works out to about the same as the Pimax 8K headset.

        • Icebeat

          and you know that because you are …?

        • Andrew Jakobs

          It is 8K…. you seem to mistake your ‘4K’ for ‘4K UHD’, the 4K specifies the horizontal resolution, the UHD adds the specific vertical resolution.

          • Daniel slicker (DanielC)

            No. it is not 8k.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Yes it is, 2x 4K = 8K.. as I said, you’re mistaken if you think the term is anything related to the vertical resolution.. 4K as is refers to the horizontal resolution, 4K UHD also specifies the vertical resolution.. get your facts straight.. if they were referring to it as 8K UHD, than you’re right it isn’t 8K UHD, it’s just 8K..

          • JustNiz

            So if it had a display resolution of 8192 x 1, you’d still be happy that you got an 8K headset?

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Technically speaking, yes, 8192×1 is still 8K.. there is a difference between what I want and be happy with and what the real technical term is. And you people seem to forget that..

          • T Sheehan

            In the end, what you’re seeing is 4k, but in 3d. You don’t see twice as much because you have two eyes. So yeah, 8k is not only marketing BS because of the actual math ratio compared to the definition of the standard, but also because the image is horizontally half, not a monolithic single image in 2d

          • Actually it is 4K per eye, you do not have an effective resolution of 8K since each image is only offset by the parallax derived from the IPD setting, so they are essentially the same. That being said, the current piMax 4K uses a similar low persistence LCD as well. If we take two or these and put them side by side, you essentially have the 8K piMax. I have the 4K version and its collecting dust now. Its main problem is not supporting above 30Hz refresh in 4K due to being HDMI 1.3 only (they even shaved the part number off their HDMI to MIPI chip. I think you are going to see the same thing here as well. Also, there are other reasons why larger panels cannot support higher than 75Hz due to the material latency across the larger panels. This was explained to me by a VR panel manufacturer and why many headset have two small independent panels, even though higher resolutions single panels are available. Many of the articles and videos I have seen, piMax said they were running at 75Hz, with full 9hHz coming. I will believe it when I see it. And I think when it does, it will be some type of interleaved technique. The 5K model is nothing more than two 2560 panels like your smartphone.

            Finally, does anyone remember the STEM system from Sixense? I do and now I am out over $500. I sure hope that is not what happens here.

          • Downvote King

            When viewing 3D content, wouldn’t the parallax offset present unique information to each eye, making the effective resolution 8K?

          • Yes the the parallax does offer different offsets for each lens, but it is still the same scene. Regardless, each eye only receives 4K of resolution (you can’t see the other 4K panel), and actually that is being optimistic from what I have seen due to masking and lens parameters. This is not taking away from the fact they are using two independent panels at 4K, but seeing how they also touted the previous unit as “4K” when it effect you would be lucky to get even 1.2K per eye due to the conversion chip mentioned in my post previously, I am EXTREMELY skeptical that you will even see any content at the native 4K resolution per eye. The only advantage I see with the PiMax is the denser pixels and higher FOV. I also don’t see them solving the lens issue in this price range either. What is needed is pretty complex multi-lens system to compensate for the wide dispersal, but that would add weight and cost. If they go with Fresnel lenses, they will lose the sharpness offered by a standard lens design. There is a way to get both, but not with current flat panels and lenses.

          • Downvote King

            It’s the same scene, but if it is presented in 3D each eye is receiving unique information about the scene, right? So, minus the lost due to convex correction, there is 4K of unique data reaching each eye… seems like a relatively legitimate way to claim 8K. There’s no convention though as of yet, to determine standard practice in labelling, so who’s to know. Should it be per eye, or total pixels?

          • AJ_74

            2x 4K displays are actually superior to a single 8K display. If you don’t believe that, go back and read about why both Oculus and HTC chose 2 half-resolution displays for their headsets.

            It doesn’t matter what term refers to what pixel layout, or what technology is combining two images. All that matters is the pixel density per eye.

            https://www.omnicalculator.com/other/pixels-per-inch

            7″ 7680 x 4,320 (“8K”) display = 1258.8ppi
            3.5″ 3840 x 2160 (“4K”) display = 1258.8ppi

            Get a clue.

          • JustNiz

            Sorry but their STEM system was always an obvious scam. Basic physics/logic says you can’t do accurate tracking with just a single radio source/receiver.

          • Actually the specs say 3840 x 2160 for each eye, the exact spec as UHD which defines both H&V. Cinema 4K is actually 4096 by 2160 with an aspect ratio (256:135) that is more conducive to widescreen cinema.

          • Gauthier Abel

            4k and UHD are just two different resolutions. Nothing about “UHD” says “Vertical resolution” more than “4k” does. Both imply their vertical resolution, and yes, calling two 4k display “8k” is bullshit. 8k is 4x 4k; 4k is 4x FHD.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            No 4K/8K only refers to the horizontal resolution, “4K UHD” specifiec horizontal and vertical resolution..
            Nope 4K is NOT 4x FHD, it’s what YOU make of it, officially “4K UHD” is 4x FHD.. get your facts straight not what you want it to be. And two 4K UHD panels next to each other makes it the equivalent of a 8K screen, not an “8K UHD” screen which you associate with the 8K term so no, 8K is not 4x 4k, but “8K UHD” IS 4x “4K UHD”. It’s how it’s officially is classified by the industrie..

          • daveinpublic

            4K is a term that refers to width and height in displays. If you’re saying 4K means 4,000, because K is short for kilo than congrats.
            But the term 4K in the display world is a standard that refers to both width and height. Putting two 4k displays next to each other doesn’t make it an 8K display. That would have an extremely wide aspect ratio. 8K has twice the height resolution as 4K, just like 4K has twice the height resolution of HD. Pimax 8K has half of the pixels of 8K, because it is half the height of 8K screens. It would be more ethical if they called their headsets 2K and 4K.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            again NO IT DOESN’T, “4K UHD” is the term in display world that refers to horizontal and vertical resolution, “4K” only refers to horizontal resolution. The Pimax 8K had half of the pixels of “8K UHD” but not “8K”..
            And in displayworld if more displays are connected to form 1 big display than it is refered to as one display, so all in all Pimax isn’t deceiving when it calls it’s display 8K, especially since they called their previous version 4K.. (and again, NOT “4K UHD”)..

          • JustNiz

            Not really. Until Pimax came along, everyone conventionally used 8K as shorthand for 8K UHD. Pimax basically redefined what 8K means, to mean “not the same as 8K UHD”. It was pretty blatantly misleading.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            But as I said, because SOME people are stupid enough not to use the actual technical term and even misusing the shorthand 4k/8k doesn’t make it misleading.. Pimax hasn’t redefined what 8K means, they are actually using the technically correct term for it, it would be misleading and incorrect if they actually used the term ‘8k uhd’.. and especially since they also used the same technically correct term on their 4K headset which has been on the market for some time now, people who thought 8K was really 8K uhd are just, uhm let me say this nicely, not smart…

          • Cl

            8K is just the name of the device. Things like “4k” is just a marketing term anyway. Look even on newegg monitors and use the drop down on 2k monitors, there is 2560×1440 and even 2560X1080 in the same category. As you see the 2k is just referring to the horizontal resolution. There is no definition in the first place other than that, which if you go by that standard then it is 8k.

        • Kev

          It’s 8k wide and 4k tall. It isn’t LCD they are a new type of LCD called LPLCD (Low Persistence). I tried it and it was immensely better than my Vive.

          • It is actually two independent 3140 x 2160 LPLCP panels.

        • VrLover

          The Pimax 4k actually DOES use Sharp LCD’s. Besides that, Pimax said that the 8k supplier is from Japan again, so most likely it IS Sharp again.

          • No dispute there either, but actually looking at the specs for for LPLCD panels, low persistent does not mean OLED performance. Many Chinese vendors tout this claim on Alibaba and even though its better, you will not get 90Hz as they claim from full brightness to black.

      • Talledega Knight

        Nope,not sure who they are getting them from as it’s undisclosed but Pimax is a patented CLPL (low persistence liquid display).

        Sure can’t wait for mine to show up in 2018 ;)

        • Cdaked

          …a patent with a partner, which is rumored to be Sharp.

  • polysix

    excellent. Google has some use after all!

    • sfmike

      LOL!!

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    great! one of my gripes with the VIVE is that I can barely tell what I’m aim at when shooting from long distances in Onward or Stand-Out. Anything up close usually looks great. Movies are not great to watch either. I hope by the time this hits, that GPU are not far behind, when combined with proper eye tracking and other optimization tricks.

    • Michael

      You’re going to want a Samsung Odyssey or a Pimax 8K. That will hold you over for some time.

      • Zachary Scott Dickerson

        yep, I bought a pimax 8K (not the true 8K version). I hear it is only marginal improvement for resolution, but great for FOV. Mostly only care about gaming and movie watching for now.

        • McGamer

          You guys have fun with the cheap plastic and stretched textures, lol.

          • Da Mo (JFlash)

            We will, Thanks

          • Kev

            That’s just false. Tried it and it is quite decent with none of the issues you claim.

      • Charles Sanders

        The samsung odessey isnt better then an HTC vive. It has slightly better resolution. Comparing that to pimax is ridiculous.

  • VRium

    The light rays of a video projection can be reduced at a point contrary to a physical screen.
    So we could a poor resolution video projection to have an mega resolution in a very little projected area.
    If this Mega Res video projected point could follow the eyes, we could have a Mega Res HMD that would run on very low graphic power.

  • VRium

    The light rays of a video projection can be reduced at a point contrary to a physical screen.
    A poor resolution video projection would enough to get a mega resolution, in a very little projected area. If
    this projected ” point ” would fast enough to follow the eyes, we could
    have a Mega Resolution VR HMD that would run on low graphic power.

  • sfmike

    Hurry!!! I can’t wait!

  • Muzufuzo

    I would gladly buy that today.

  • Joe Black

    They should not be worried about the performance so much. All you need is for each current pixel to be displayed using 10 pixels (or whatever the exact ratio is). I mean not running the games at the native resolution of the displays. The scaling can be built into the headset hardware. So that the drain on GPU is the same, but the screen door effect is reduced. I find the current resolution to be just dandy. The screen door effect is another matter though.

    • daveinpublic

      Can’t they just release a HMD with 2x the resolution and render the scene at half unless it’s text? So the GPU doesn’t have a harder time, but you can still read the text?

  • impurekind

    Yeah, once we get like 8K+ resolution with foveated rendering, at near 200 degree field of view and 90-120Hz, we’re going to have something pretty frikin’ special. And I don’t actually think we’re that far off from this–maybe a couple of generations of headsets.

    • Michael

      Well 4K x 4K per eye is more than enough to begin, if we get 6K x 6K per eye @ 200 FOV, then damn. We will need much more powerful GPUs though alongside foveated. So Gen 2 NEEDS foveated rendering. Not only does that get the technology ironed out, that means that the next gen might look twice as good (FOV + RES) for the same horsepower because of the reduced load.

  • nekrololi

    This will be great for virtual cinemas and playing games within VR on screens.

  • kosmo1982

    exactly what they should go for. pimax 4k was working in 1080p and there was no screen door effect and everything was sharp. So its not resolution but pixel density. btw pimax was garbage in every other aspect

  • Jack H

    Could a multi-layer transistor display be produced such that for instance a first transistor layer controls each pixel but a second layer can only control a group of four pixels? In this way foveation would be implemented on-display and potentially reduce the data transmission and reduce the number of charge shifts in addressing all the pixels, depending on implementation.

  • iUserProfile

    As if Google is the only company researching this …

  • Cool! But actually the problem is: who is going to render all those pixels?

  • Rob H

    Pimax headset is 200° FOV and StarVR is 210° FOV. That’s around max human FOV. Not sure you understand the term seeeing as you’re implying you need to have a deformed head like a hammerhead shark to achieve more that, when In fact, most non-predatory creatures have near 360° FOV.

  • ZNemerald

    23:15 he talks about FOV

  • Access Group

    We need way more pixels. Future seems to be more interesting with VR…

    https://apartmentpropertyvaluation.com/cap-rate/nebraska/