Valve: “Current Latency of Technology Bottlenecks Virtual Reality”
So cross that off your Steam Box features wish list.
Valve’s Steam Box may contain a ton of awesome, new features but one thing it may be skipping is VR, as Michael Abrash currently wrote on the company blog about latency between input and display response being the current bottleneck for the technology.
“Assuming accurate, consistent tracking (and that’s a big if, as I’ll explain one of these days), the enemy of virtual registration is latency. If too much time elapses between the time your head starts to turn and the time the image is redrawn to account for the new pose, the virtual image will drift far enough so that it has clearly wobbled (in VR), or so that is obviously no longer aligned with the same real-world features (in AR),” he writes.
“How much latency is too much? Less than you might think. For reference, games generally have latency from mouse movement to screen update of 50 ms or higher (sometimes much higher), although I’ve seen numbers as low as about 30 ms for graphically simple games running with tearing (that is, with vsync off). In contrast, I can tell you from personal experience that more than 20 ms is too much for VR and especially AR, but research indicates that 15 ms might be the threshold, or even 7 ms.
Current latency is estimated to be about 36 ms, which, as Abrash remarks, is “a long way from 20 ms, and light-years away from 7 ms.”
Interestingly, he looks forward to Occulus Rift and has “hope that if the VR market takes off in the wake of the Rift’s launch, the day when display latency comes down will be near at hand.”