Unreal Engine Fully Integrates OpenXR and Foveated Rendering
Unreal Engine has now fully integrated OpenXR, marking another key milestone in the implementation of the open standard for the XR industry. Previously, OpenXR in Unreal Engine was available in a Beta. With version 4.27, the industry standard is now production-ready.
OpenXR is an industry-endorsed open standard and interface that ensures XR apps are compatible across a multiplicity of devices and platforms. It is supported by some of the top guns in XR and the tech world. The standard will eventually benefit platform operators, consumers, eyewear manufacturers, and other XR hardware developers.
The version 4.27 of Unreal Engine will be arriving this summer and comes with plenty of innovations with implications for the XR industry. The biggest revelation in the update is that OpenXR support will be leaving beta and becoming fully production-ready, according to Epic Games. This means that developers can now use Unreal Engine to develop applications on the basis of the OpenXR standard. The other leading graphics engine, Unity, supports the OpenXR standard via an OpenXR plugin.
Epic is maintaining a game platform that could increasingly rely on virtual reality in the future with its Epic Games Store. Epic is currently working on a games store that’s specifically guided for XR content. Because OpenXR is all about platform and device independence, it makes sense that Epic Games is promoting OPenXR integration in its own engine. Recently, Epic integrated 3,400 virtual reality games into its own store. Epic Games’ biggest competitor Valve implemented OpenXR support on its sales platform at the beginning of this year.
Support for PC-Based Foveated Rendering
With the Unreal Engine version 4.27, Epic Games has also created a new VR project template designed specifically for OpenXR to make it easier for developers to get started with the interface. This further underpins the fact that the future belongs to OpenXR development. The new VR project template is joined by a new AR project template for ARKit and ARCore development.
The new Unreal Engine version also comes with experimental support for Eye Tracked Foveated Rendering based on Nvidia’s Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and OpenXR eye tracking. A Windows PC and graphics card from the RTX 20 and 30 Series are required. So far, the Unreal Engine has only supported Fixed Foveated Rendering on Oculus Go and Oculus Quest. Foveated rendering allows for only that part of the image that the eye is currently focusing on to be rendered at full resolution. The resources that are freed up as a result can then be used for higher resolution, sharper textures, and better effects. At the moment, however, there are no VR headsets capable of supporting the eye tracking required for this.