Virtual reality (VR) headsets and application programs for VR are not gaining traction with users because of a chicken-and-egg dilemma, lack of VR content, and slow market penetration of custom-made VR units.
Researchers have created a new approach to VR that allows multiple players to interact with the same VR game on smartphones and provides new opportunities for enterprise, education, healthcare, and entertainment applications.
The Coterie VR system uses a novel way to manage the challenging task of rendering high-resolution virtual scenes to satisfy the stringent quality-of-experience (QoE) of VR. Those include high frame rate and low motion-to-photon latency — the delay between the movement of the user’s head or game controller and the change of the VR device’s display reflecting the user’s movement. The new approach enables 4K-resolution VR on commodity mobile devices and allows up to 10 players to interact in the same VR application at a time.
One reason for the heavy computational workload of high-resolution VR apps is the constant need to render updates to both the foreground interactions with the players and the background environment in the virtual world. VR apps using Coterie split up this heavy rendering task between the smartphone and an edge server over WiFi in a way that drastically reduces the load on the smartphone while allowing the subframes rendered on both to be merged into the final frame within 16 ms, satisfying the VR QoE.
The approach not only reduces the network requirement so multiple players can share the same WiFi but also reduces the power draw and computation demand on each mobile device and provides a better user experience. The technology opens the door for enterprise applications such as training, collaboration, healthcare applications such as surgical training, and military applications.