Virtual Reality through the screen door

Overhyped and underperforming, consumer VR still suffers from latency and gaps in the display.

By Jon Peddie

I’m seeing more than I want to, or maybe not enough. Our eyes are just too good. Too good for the VR and AR displays we can afford and are able to build today.

VR has a taxonomy that can be reduced to a quadrant:

Consumer Mobile Commercial Mobile
Consumer Tethered Commercial Tethered

Samsung’s gear is upper left, HTC and Oculus are lower left, and the stuff that started the VR field, and where the money is made is the lower right.

The lower left is highly overhyped by the participants, investors, market researchers (who should know better), the press and pundits. They are all practicing The Emperor’s New Clothes, seeing things they want to see that aren’t there—so they tell each other how great it all is, and how wonderful it will be. They will get tired of the charade and turn their attention to the next shiny new thing, and likely turn on each other in the process.

Consumer VR, especially the interactive, PC/PS4-based type has two major problems: latency and something called the screen-door effect. The screen-door effect (SDE) or fixed-pattern noise (FPN) is a visual artifact of displays, where the fine lines separating pixels (or subpixels) become visible in the displayed image. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as pixel-pitch. In the simplest of explanations, pixel pitch is the distance from the center of an LED (LCD, or OLED) cluster (or pixel) to the center of the next LED cluster/pixel measured in millimeters. “Screen door effect” is a phrase used to describe a display that has a visible gap between individual pixels. However, there is no technical specification (that I know of) for this gap.

Read Jon Peddie’s full analysis at the Jon Peddie Research website.