Virtual reality has been slow to penetrate the market and gain any traction. A lack of quality virtual reality gear with a low entry price and minimal content available has contributed to the slow development. Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new system to tackle some common issues with virtual reality. The new system is called Coterie.
Coterie tackles some quality of experience issues around managing render high-resolution scenes. The first issue to solve is motion to photon latency, or the delay in virtual reality registering and displaying any movement done by the user. Additionally Coterie aims to achieve higher frame rates at 4k resolution than its competitors. Finally, Coterie allows up to ten users to interact on the same application together. All of this is meant to be achieved on commodity mobile devices such as smartphones.
We have worked to create VR technology that someone can use on a typical smartphone with a Wi-Fi connection.
Team lead Y. Charlie Hu, the Michael and Katherine Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, commented, “Our solution not only allows multiple players to participate in a VR game at the same time but also provides a better and more cost-effective option for single-player use.”
The technology inside the Coterie system was first underplayed and is currently published for public access at ASPLOS 2020, an international conference for interdisciplinary systems research, intersecting computer architecture, hardware and emerging technologies, programming languages and compilers, operating systems and networking.
Mobile devices, even top tier machines, often cannot handle the heavy workload that virtual reality demands. Virtual reality needs to consistently re-render foregrounds and background environments as the player moves, interacts or looks around. Often environmental assets are not unloaded to lower workloads. Attempting virtual reality games at high resolution often leads to performance issues such as hitching, until the application is overtaxed and crashes. “The heavy load simply cannot be handled by even high-end smartphones alone,” Y. Charlie Hu said.
When a virtual reality application or game is running with Coterie over WiFi, the workload is split between the user’s device and a host server. The drastically reduced workloads are then sent back, merged and rendered together for a final display hitting response times at 16ms, which satisfied the quality of experience milestone. CS: GO was used as the benchmark. The Coterie approach not only has a reduction in computational load but reduces power consumption and network requirements allowing multiple players to use the applications together.
Y. Charlie Hu is optimistic about Coterie and foresees it having utility beyond gaming. He hopes that Coterie will see use in educational, medical and military applications. “You could have multiple doctors and health care professionals interacting in a VR operating room.” Y. Charlie Hu said. Coterie has been submitted for a patent by Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and is under review.