Google working on a secret OLED display project for AR and VR

Google is partnering with one of the leading OLED manufacturers for a secret project that could create a virtual reality display with 10 times more pixels than any currently commercially available VR display on the market today.

The details of the secret project were revealed by Clay Bavor, vice-president of VR, in a keynote on Tuesday at the Society for Information Display’s (SID) week conference. Bavor took to the stage to reveal that Google were in a deep partnership with an unnamed manufacturing company to power the Cardboard and Daydream VR with a prototype display that Bavor considers spectacular.

With the prototype display capable of resolutions up to 20 megapixels per eye, it would be like having two and a half 4K TV’s strapped to your face, making it approximately ten times more powerful than any VR display that is currently available on the commercial market. Bavor went on to say that he has seen the display in a lab environment and it is spectacular for increasing the acuity and the field of view in a VR headset, and that’s not even the final version.

But what does a display that pushes that many pixels require in way of bandwidth? A cool 100 Gbps. Bavor said the biggest challenge was managing and utilizing that data as you simply cannot render that much data, or even transfer it to, from, or around the device. He continued to state that one solution the partnership was exploring was a method called foveated rendering. This method involves using a camera to track where the eye is focusing and render a very high resolution of exactly what you’re looking at. This reduces the amount of data needed to process as it is outside of where you are looking and therefore not needed. Combining foveated rendering with these new displays will transform virtual reality with high-resolution displays and focused rendering resulting in efficient processing of incredible virtual-reality images.

The focus of Google is clear and that is to fix the fundamental unresolved problems of virtual reality that must be addressed if the technology is to move forward. Bavor says that to increase the acuity, quality, and field of view for virtual reality in a headset, way more pixels are needed. With the average consumer VR headset providing 2 megapixels per eye, the new secret project Google is working on easily addresses the shortcomings of current technology, but it’s not without its own challenges. He continued to say “that’s enough to render only 20/100 vision through the headset, well below the bar for being declared legally blind in most U.S. states”.

Google seems to be addressing the main issues of virtual reality and aggressively pushing the boundaries of current technology to enhance the Google Cardboard and Daydream VR solutions. I can only image how good images look with the secret display the company is working on, but with it at lab stages it seems a while before we’ll see any final product.

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