PlayStation VR 2 (PS VR2) has been designed to give virtual reality developers access to a lot of resources that previously went to waste.
Speaking with Play magazine for the latest issue, Brendan Walker, principal engineer at developer Polyarc, explained how foveated rendering is the biggest feature of PS VR2 and how the rendering technique will allow Sony Interactive Entertainment to keep its new headset relevant for years to come.
By tracking the eyes of players, foveated rendering will only detail scenes that players are currently focusing their attention on while lowering the resolution of everything else outside of their field of view.
“It’s one of those things that engineers are excited about,” said Walker. “We can improve performance and increase fidelity, but when it’s working right, you won’t notice because everything that’s outside of your periphery vision, you won’t realize it’s lower resolution.”
Without foveated rendering, it becomes hard to optimize a virtual reality headset for next-generation games. Investing too many resources might not yield desired fruits because players might not even catch every detail in their surroundings unless they decide to focus on them. Invest too little and the longevity of the hardware comes into question.
Not to mention that foveated rendering is a cumbersome technique but becomes doable for PS VR2 thanks to the new PlayStation 5 hardware.
“It was smart of Sony to learn into this on a console because you have this hardware that hopefully is going to be around for quite a while,” added Walker. “And in order to eke out as much lifetime out of it, you need to be able to optimize where you can and this is another axis of optimization.”
The eye-tracking rendering technique is however not only about keeping the PS VR2 hardware relevant for years to come. It will also allow developers to use those freed-up resources to create new virtual reality experiences.
Walker explained that PS VR2 will be treating your gaze as a new form of input. Since developers will know exactly what players are looking at, “I can trigger a reaction right now and I know the player will notice it,” he said. “And then you can also even potentially build some kind of gameplay mechanics off of that.”
PlayStation VR2 remains to receive a launch date but some virtual reality enthusiasts are pegging their hopes on a 2022 holiday window.