“Sparse Peripheral Displays” Is Microsoft’s Solution to VR’s Limited Field-of-View
Every VR headset out there – whether it’s an Oculus Rift, a HTC Vive, or Google Cardboard – offers a way for us to peek into a virtual world with immersive detail and clarity. However, these headsets doesn’t offer a way to render peripheral vision. In reality, we have a roughly 180 degree field of view, while most virtual reality systems have fields of view closer to 110 degrees. This affects the overall realism and immersive factor when we use VR.
To address this issue, Microsoft Research has a solution called sparse peripheral displays. Basically, the company has demonstrated a system for placing dozens of LEDs around the edges of the primary display to make virtual reality a little more immersive.
Here’s the idea: sure, you have a 180 degree field of view in real life. But things get pretty blurry around your peripheral vision. So Microsoft just figured out that you don’t really need a high-resolution display to trick you into thinking you have peripheral vision in a virtual environment. The purpose of the sparse peripheral displays are to increase what we call “situational awareness” – that is to trick your brain by seeing objects around without using any high-resolution displays.
Microsoft Research created a prototype called SparseLightVR which places 70 LED lights on the sides of an Oculus Rift headset. They can change color to match scenes in video games. When you move your head to look at different visuals, the colors change as well.
In addition to making you feel a little more like you’re immersed in a virtual world, Microsoft says this can help reduce the motion sickness that’s sometimes associated with virtual reality.
Researchers also created a demo augmented reality system called SparseLightAR which uses a Samsung Gear VR with 112 LED lights for a 190 degree field of view.
As promising as the technology would be, Microsoft has no word on the possibility of integrating these sparse peripheral displays into actual VR and AR hardware.
For more information on Microsoft’s sparse peripheral display, please visit the following websites: