How Important is the Frame Rate of Virtual Reality Headset Indicate?

While many specifications can be important for VR, refresh rate is often forgotten. The headset’s refresh rate can make the difference between immersion or aversion.

Frame Rate of Virtual Reality Headset: The basics of refresh rates

It doesn’t matter which type of display device it is; there’s a maximum refresh rate. This refers to the time required to completely redraw an image on-screen. Refresh rates are measured by Hertz (Hz). The number that you see is the total display redraws per second.

Most displays around the globe can run at 60Hz. Newer displays can go up to 120Hz, 240Hz, and even 360Hz. A screen’s ability to reproduce smoother motion is affected by its refresh rate. Higher refresh rates make interactive media such as video games more responsive and instant.

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The Difference between Frame Rate and Refresh Rat

A monitor’s refresh rate is the maximum number of images it can display per second. However, this does not mean that the content must be present for the refresh rate to apply. If you want to experience the full effects of a 60Hz monitor, for example, your game must render 60 frames per second.

You’ll only be able to see the actual motion quality of the frames if it renders less than that. You’ll also see the frames wasted if you get more frames per second than your screen can display.

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Frame Rate is a type of resolution.

It’s easy to see frame rate and refresh rate as forms of resolution. Display resolution is usually defined as the number of pixels on display. Four times more pixels are found in a 4K image than in a Full HD 1080p image. You can see fine details in the 4K image, which are simply not possible in the lower resolution image.

This is the spatial resolution of an image or a single moment in time.

Frame rate refers to the temporal resolution. This is the detail of the image as it changes over time. It is 60 frames per second, which means you can see 60 samples of the virtual world. You are unaware of anything that occurs between these snapshots. You only see the object’s current position every 60 seconds if it moves within your view. You’d see twice the information if you increased the frame rate to 120 frames per second (and used a 120Hz monitor). This is because you now have twice as many samples every second. The motion appears smoother when the frame rate and refresh rates are increased together.

This is not just a visual improvement. Temporal resolution improves, which means that the world responds faster to your actions. Your sense of connection to the virtual world increases as you reduce the time between performing an action and seeing it in its reflection.

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Refresh Rate, Frame rate, and VR Presence

Real-life has no refresh rate. If we are pedantic, surely a theoretical scientist will surely raise something about string theory, vibrations, or other related ideas beyond the scope of this article on VR. For our purposes, real-world events happen in real-time.

Although our perception of reality is not in real-time, and we don’t have the bandwidth or the capacity to process every detail, it’s still possible to see the world as a continuous stream of sensory information. Our vision is analog and not digitally cut like a computer game.

Modern VR has clarified that “presence” is essential to make it transformative. Instead of their real-world location, you can achieve presence when you can trick the user’s mind into believing they are in the virtual world.

After much research and experimentation, it was discovered that certain technical elements must perform at a minimum level for presence to occur. The horizontal field of vision (essentially your central and peripheral visions) must be at least 90°. The average human vision is around 180 degrees wide, with some exceptions. However, at 90 degrees presence, it becomes possible.

Another important factor is latency. A VR system’s end-to-end latency should not exceed 50ms, and 20ms is a better choice. According to John Carmack (of ID Software fame), these are the minimum figures you should aim for, former chief of Oculus Technology.

The presence puzzle also includes the refresh rate and frame rate. It’s directly linked to latency and smoothness of movement. As the frame rate rises and latency falls, the virtual world begins to feel and look more like the real world that our brains expect.

What is the importance of VR’s Refresh Rate?

As you can see, both the refresh rate and frame rates are critical for good VR. It allows users to feel present and provides a pleasant user experience. What refresh rate should we choose? The consensus was that VR presence was best achieved at 90Hz, which was also the target rate for the Oculus Rift prototype.

Oculus has released a headset that refreshes at a lower rate since then. Oculus Quest 1 had a 72Hz refresh rate, but this proved to be a minor issue. Quest 1’s OLED display with low persistence, which cut motion blur and latency somewhat, had this result.

Although the 72Hz product was a minor issue, the Quest2 and major headsets now offer 90Hz. Higher numbers are expected to be the norm in the future. It doesn’t matter what refresh rate VR is. If you are running at 90Hz, there’s not much to worry about as long as you have the horsepower to drive the required frames.

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