FlashBack; Microsoft’s Algorithm for a seamless VR Experience.

Virtual Reality is finally gaining its well-deserved traction with big companies like HTC, Samsung and Google investing their time and efforts to push devices that fall into every budget class. Even though many VR devices have been pushed out this year, but they all lack significantly in the graphics department; with many stuttering and some of the devices even lack the functionality of playing high-resolution images.

Of the plentiful devices that have been pushed out this year, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the ones which offer prime quality experience in their VR Headsets . However, even these high-end VR devices lack significantly in the fact that they cannot work as stand-alone, instead, they need to be connected to a computer which is running on extravagant specifications. Since these headsets provide a premium experience, they are also on the higher end of the budget spectrum. Needless to say, there are cheaper alternatives in the market but they require the presence of a smartphone which doubles as a display screen. You can even have a VR headset for almost zero cost (Read, Google Cardboard) but the resolutions aren’t exceptional and the feeling isn’t as immersive.

The VR industry is continuously expanding with many key players realizing the potential in the field but progress is slightly on the slower side. Recently, however, Microsoft leapt in the VR market and is making strides through enhancement such as the FlashBack. It is basically a new system that touts of better framerate (8 times better), a significant reduction in the latency (15 times) and lessens the energy consumption (97X). FlashBack is an algorithm based approach for high-quality VR environment. FlashBack basically minimizes the rendering of real-time frames and this means that no GPU is required for rendering the virtual realm.

The FlashBack system basically allows pre-rendering of images (even the ones in high-resolution) which result in a smoother display. Another key feature of this system is the ability to allow compression and storage of huge frames in the RAM or SSD and to achieve this feat, the system compresses the files right away to the flash storage and then allows the VR app to get preloaded on the VR frame.

Demonstrations were made using the Oculus Rift DK2 and HP Pavilion Mini. However, the technology is still in its initial stages. The system still needs to be exhaustively tested before it can be used commercially.

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