Consumer VR headsets have been available since 2015, when a large number of companies announced their own versions of the products. By 2016, more than 230 companies were working on their own VR HMD projects. Most of these projects have since ended and companies have gone bankrupt, but some keep releasing new products, both stand-alone and tethered versions, on an almost annual basis. Oculus (Facebook) released new Quest and Rift devices in 2019, while HTC came up with a new VIVE and Valve announced their Index glasses. Then there is Varjo, a company that keeps amazing their fans with human-eye resolution products, as well as numerous new Chinese companies that are also catching up fast in product design and performance. In CES 2020, there were dozens of new players and products coming to both the VR and AR markets.  
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The testing process during R&D of a new smart device involves many aspects. In this blog I will showcase some of the most important areas where we are the best in the world.
When it comes to the development of physical mass products, we work with most of the top-rated companies in the world. Why? Our competence in testing and our ability to help the customer in the early stages of new product innovation makes us unique. The competence of our metrology teams, especially our optical and imaging-related knowledge, combined with extensive knowledge of high-precision robotics, is unique in the world. An example of our competence in component testing is described in the blog Characterizing Diffractive Waveguides. Add an exceptional team and the ability to help customers to solve their problems and that is what OptoFidelity stands for.
We work with our customers as well as further down the line during manufacturing and after sales. For further information please have a look at further details at the Production Testing blog posting or, for tailored solutions, at the OptoFidelity Competencies site.
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Maturity of AR/VR/MR devices is improving significantly during 2019. In order to offer seamless UX for consumers, more comprehensive testing methods are needed. A novel content tracking method for AR/VR/MR testing purposes is introduced by OptoFidelity, the leading test solution provider for HMD UX testing.
In 2019, we can expect a wealth of exciting virtual and augmented reality devices arriving: for example, Oculus is going to release the standalone Quest headset, and Nreal raised $15M of funding to produce a sunglass-sized AR headset. In CES 2019, there were almost a hundred exhibitors in the AR/VR Gaming category.
Quick development of the new technology gives rise to the need to verify performance in product development as a part of continuous integration. This post focuses on measuring head tracking accuracy, which is comprised of many measurable elements: drifting, jitter, motion-to-photon latency, cross-axis coupling… you name it!
Kick-start for HMD UX testing was done in 2017, when OptoFidelity´s first offering BUDDY-1, previously known as VR Multimeter was launched. BUDDY-1 is a solution for benchmarking the motion-to-photon latency with one degree of freedom. Our BUDDY testers are equipped with a smart camera which captures and analyzes the frames displayed on the headset. BUDDY-1 tracks the optical flow of a target pattern placed in the virtual world and compares that to the physical rotation angle over time, yielding motion-to-photon time. BUDDY-1 is a good work horse for basic motion-to-photon latency measurement e.g. to catch some fatal performance regressions.
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OptoFidelity worked in co-operation with University of Jyväskylä, Department of Physics. Our co-operation was related to academic research in the area of HMD testing technology. Our interest was to find new optical measurement technologies and methods for VR headset tracking performance. As an end result, we developed a novel technology for testing HMD´s. If tracking performance of HMD is poor, it will effect drastically to end user experience. OptoFidelity has been working with user interface testing for years. As HMD´s are getting more and more popular, we believe better testing technology is needed as well.
One of the most popular topics in today’s smart device industry and research is the development of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets. State-of-the-art, room-scale implementations utilize multiple cameras and sensors to find the position and orientation of the user’s head in the surrounding space. This is called six degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking. Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms, familiar from robotics, are also utilized to make the headset better adapt to its surroundings by recognizing walls and other obstacles. Qualcomm, for example, has implemented SLAM in its new mobile processor .
The quality and accuracy of the head tracking are key contributors to the virtual reality experience. Bad performance of the tracking may cause nausea or simply undermine the credibility and immersivity of the virtual reality experience. For the development of the devices and the content, an objective way of assessing the behavior of tracking is necessary. The high quality of the tracking may be quantified by observing e.g., the latency between the user’s motion and the respective update of the display content (motion-to-photon latency), jitter (random shaking of the content) or drifting.
There are several possible ways of testing the tracking performance. Given access to suitable APIs of a headset, one may record and investigate data from the headset’s tracking system, graphics stack or some other components. Another example is application-to-photon latency measurement, where the graphical content is changed. The respective change of the display is observed by an external sensor (such as a color sensor or a camera), and latency between the two events is measured.
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I had the opportunity to be an invited speaker at the SID Display Week symposium in Los Angeles. Display Week is one of the largest venues of the display industry, gathering more than 400 speakers/authors and 6,000+ professional visitors together for a whole week.